Fear of Animals: The Big List

Written by AZ Animals Staff
Published: August 9, 2021
Written by AZ Animals Staff
Published: August 9, 2021

Have you ever heard of zoophobia? That is the medical term given for the general fear of animals, from the roots “zoo” meaning animal and “phobia” meaning dread or fear. Around six percent of all people suffer from some form of zoophobia during a period of their lives. For most, they fear or are disgusted by a specific animal. We’ve compiled a list of the most common animal phobias, as well as some of the lesser-known animal phobias. How many of these fears have you heard of?

#15 Fear of Animals: Arachnophobia

Fear of Animals: Arachnophobia
The Colombian lesser black tarantula, Xenesthis immanis, is a large terrestrial bird spider, with hairy legs and body and a beautiful pattern.

This is probably one of the most common forms of specific zoophobia. Arachnophobia is the fear of spiders. This fear affects nearly 100 million people in the United States alone. Worldwide, anywhere from three and a half to six percent of the population is estimated to be affected by a fear of spiders. Unlike some other fears, this one usually does not stem from a specific instance of trauma with a spider. This fear was immortalized on film in 1990 and many people actually credited that movie with causing their arachnophobia!

#14 Fear of Animals: Ophidiophobia

Fear of Animals: Ophidiophobia
A yellow-ringed Boiga snake ready to attack. Snakes can’t bite food so have to swallow it whole.

Ophidiophobia is the fear of snakes. While some instinctive trepidation when you see an unknown snake in the wild is normal because so many species are venomous, some people can’t even stand the sight of a snake in photographs or safely enclosed in cages. Even an image of a snake can cause an Ophidiophobe heart palpitations, trembling, and shortness of breath, among other symptoms.

#13 Fear of Animals: Spheksophobia

Fear of Animals: Spheksophobia
The common wasp (Vespula vulgaris) sitting on a fruit. Wasps can recognize another wasp by identifying the individual from their unique facial patterns.

A very common fear is Spheksophobia, the fear of wasps. This phobia will often trigger individuals into fight or flight mode. For some people, this is caused by an allergy to the sting of this insect. For others, it may be caused by the somewhat alien and menacing appearance of wasps and their aggressive nature.

#12 Fear of Animals: Melissophobia/Apiphobia

Fear of Animals: Melissophobia/Apiphobia
A honey bee sitting on a beautiful flower. The honey bee is the only insect that produces food eaten by man. 

Another stinging insect that people fear is bees. Melisso- or Apiphobia, from the Latin “api” meaning “bees,” can occur by itself or be comorbid with Spheksophobia. Like fear of wasps, it may be caused by an event or by nothing at all. Most bees will not sting unless they or their hive is threatened, but few Apiphobes care about this distinction.

#11 Fear of Animals: Ranidaphobia

Fear of Animals: Ranidaphobia
A green edible frog, also known as the Common Water Frog, sits on a stone. Edible frogs are hybrids of pool frogs and marsh frogs.

Some people suffer from a fear of frogs, otherwise known as Ranidaphobia. With a few poisonous exceptions, frogs are fairly harmless, but in some cases, this phobia may be so severe that sufferers worry about even leaving their homes, for fear that they will encounter frogs while outside.

#10 Fear of Animals: Entomophobia

Fear of Animals: Entomophobia
Insects have been present for about 350 million years, and humans for only 300,000 years.

Another common phobia that may keep people inside their houses is Entomophobia, the fear of insects. This fear isn’t hard to understand. Bugs are called “creepy crawlies” for a reason. People who would not flinch at the sight of another more dangerous creature may go into a panic attack at the mere thought of being around small insects.

#9 Fear of Animals: Ornithophobia

Fear of Animals: Ornithophobia
Beautiful tanager Blue-naped Chlorophonia, Chlorophonia cyanea, an exotic tropical green songbird from Colombia. Scientists believe that birds evolved from theropod dinosaurs.

Another common phobia immortalized on film is Ornithophobia or the fear of birds. Approximately one-third of people have reported suffering from this fear. Some people may be afraid of live birds, while others are only afraid of stuffed ones or pictures of them.

#8 Fear of Animals: Musophobia

Fear of Animals: Musophobia
Wild Wood mouse resting on the root of a tree on the forest floor with lush green vegetation.

Musophobia is the fear of mice. This phobia is said to be even more common than the fear of flying or needles. A person screaming while leaping onto a chair to avoid a mouse is a commonly used trope in cartoons and movies, and it is believed that a lot of people have developed this fear as a conditioned response to seeing that trope, rather from a real fear of mice themselves.

#7 Fear of Animals: Helminthophobia/Scoleciphobia

Fear of Animals: Helminthophobia/Scoleciphobia
A red earthworm in compost. In one acre of land, there can be more than a million earthworms.

Are you frightened or severely disgusted by the worms on the sidewalk after a rain? If so, you might suffer from Helminthophobia, also known as Scoleciphobia, or the fear of worms. Though the phobia is typically directly correlated with a dread of parasitic worms, the sight of any worm at all can induce anxiety.

#6 Fear of Animals: Cynophobia

Fear of Animals: Cynophobia
Dogs have an incredibly developed sense of smell. They can even be trained to smell when a person has a certain type of cancer or diabetes.

Dogs are often referred to as “Man’s Best Friend,” but for Cynophobes, they might be considered “Man’s Worst Nightmare.” Cynophobia is a fear of dogs, usually but not always resulting from a traumatic childhood event. For some people, the fear may only relate to dogs of a certain size. For others, size does not matter at all, and they fear all dogs equally.

#5 Fear of Animals: Lepidopterophobia

Fear of Animals: Lepidopterophobia
The wings of butterflies are transparent and they live only a few weeks.

One of the less common phobias may be a bit hard to believe, but Lepidopterophobia is the fear of butterflies. While most people find butterflies soothing and beautiful, and in some places having one land on you is considered good luck, a person who suffers from this phobia disagrees. Having a butterfly land on them may be very unpleasant or even downright terrifying for these individuals.

#4 Fear of Animals: Ostraconophobia

Fear of Animals: Ostraconophobia
Colorful Tropical Rock lobster under water. They recognize other individual lobsters, remember past acquaintances, and have elaborate courtship rituals. Researchers say that their intelligence rivals that of octopuses—long considered to be the world’s smartest invertebrate.

In many parts of the world, lobster is considered a fine delicacy. Many restaurants keep them in tanks where patrons can pick their own before it is cooked. While sufferers of the lesser-known Ostraconophobia might enjoy knowing a lobster was being cooked, they would not want to look at it and they definitely wouldn’t want to eat it. These unfortunate people have a fear of lobsters.

#3 Fear of Animals: Alektorophobia

Fear of Animals: Alektorophobia
A mother hen with chickens in a rural yard. Chickens have great memories & can recognize over 100 faces.

If a person is afraid to do something, they are sometimes referred to by children as being “chicken.” What if what they are afraid of is chickens? Alektorophobia is a relatively rare form of zoophobia, but it is no less terrifying for those who have it and have to see or be around chickens. For some people, this fear may even extend to not wanting to eat chicken.

#2 Fear of Animals: Equinophobia

Fear of Animals: Equinophobia
A beautiful brown mare nurturing and teaching her sweet new little foal. Horses also have very distinct personalities. Each horse will have its own characteristics and behaviors, unique to that individual horse.

Equinophobia is the fear of horses. While many people adore these creatures, people who suffer from Equinophobia may dread even being near them. Fear of horses is often linked to some sort of traumatic event, such as being bitten or thrown by a horse or seeing it happen to someone else.

#1 Fear of Animals: Agrizoophobia

Fear of Animals: Agrizoophobia
Phobias are considered to be triggered by a certain event. It can normally be overcome with therapy.

A fear specifically related to wild animals is known as Agrizoophobia. People who suffer from this phobia generally avoid activities where they might encounter wild creatures, such as going out for hikes or visiting aquariums and zoos.

Do you suffer from any of these animal fears? If so, know that you’re not alone! The good news is, most phobias can be treated with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or some other form of therapeutic treatment.

Next Up: The Top 10 Incredible Animals That Live in Coral Reefs