The HABRI Foundation is calling for research proposals to investigate the health outcomes of pet ownership and/or animal-assisted activity or therapy, both for the people and the animals involved. To learn more, visit https://habri.org/grants/funding-opportunities/ close

 
You are here: Home / Journal Articles / Snakes: Interactions with Children with Disabilities and the Elderly—Some Psychological Considerations / About

Snakes: Interactions with Children with Disabilities and the Elderly—Some Psychological Considerations

By Abraham Shalev, Dror Ben-Mordehai

View Link (HTM)

Licensed under

Category Journal Articles
Abstract

Over the last three years we have successfully introduced snakes into group activities of children with disabilities, adolescents with behavior problems, and the elderly in nursing homes. This study presents data on the interaction of these groups with four placid and non-poisonous species of snakes of the Boidae and Colubridae families. The primary interactions (PI) included touching, holding, or petting; and the interaction rates during three meetings were recorded. Interaction rates with the children ranged from 50% to 100% and with the elderly from 67% to 86%. In the third encounter 9.5% more elderly agreed to interact with the snakes. When children in the study were offered the choice of a friendly dog, a rabbit, or a snake, 25% to 47% (mean 39%) chose the snake, whereas only 27% and 25% preferred the dog or the rabbit respectively. These results suggest that the affinity and desire of children with disabilities and the elderly to interact with snakes is strong and that this affinity and desire can outweigh cultural stereotypes, widespread fears, and negative attitudes. Many of the negative attitudes, including fear of snakes, are believed to be unconscious and unrelated to conditioned behavior. The psychological significance of the snake as a symbol in the human psyche and culture is discussed in relation to the potential future use of snakes in Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) with populations that have disabilities.

Date 1996
Publication Title Anthrozoos
Volume 9
Issue 4
Pages 182-187
ISBN/ISSN 0892-7936
DOI 10.2752/089279396787001446
URL https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.2752/089279396787001446
Language English
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • Shalev, Abraham; Ben-Mordehai, Dror (2013), "Snakes: Interactions with Children with Disabilities and the Elderly—Some Psychological Considerations," https://habricentral.org/resources/36961.

    BibTex | EndNote

Tags
  1. Animal-assisted therapies
  2. Communication disorders
  3. Human-animal interactions
  4. Interspecies interactions
  5. Israel
  6. Learning disabilities
  7. peer-reviewed
  8. Psychodynamics
  9. Snakes
Badges
  1. peer-reviewed