Updated: Aug 25
At ZooLab, our Rangers meet people of all ages with the phobias of one or more of our creatures. In the past, Jessica has examined some of the most common animal fears that we encounter - snakes, rats, tarantulas and cockroaches - to debunk the myths and help you see our extraordinary creatures in a whole new light. Today, we are going to look at a less common phobia - ranidaphobia.
This month's phobia: Ranidaphobia
Ranidaphobia is the irrational fear of frogs and toads. Ranidae is the scientific name for one of the largest families of frogs. This phobia can develop from many different factors but it is unknown how many people have this phobia.
So what is it about frogs and toads?
Seeing is believing? People with Ranidaphobia don't have to see a frog to feel anxious - it can be if they see pictures, a video or hear a frog. Their heart rate can increase, they can sweat or shake, have shortness of breath, feel lightheaded or dizzy, their chest may tighten or they may experience nausea or an upset stomach. Children with ranidaphobia may freeze, cling to adults, cry or throw a tantrum.
Did you know? Frogs use their eyeballs to swallow. They eat their prey whole, their eyeballs sink into their mouth and push the food down into their throats.
Is this phobia a learnt behaviour? Children’s fairy tales and folklore may place frogs in a negative light. These ideas are compounded by cultural norms and people’s attitudes towards frogs.
Frogs are symbols of good luck: Many cultures believe that the frog is a good luck symbol of fertility, transformation, change, liberation, prosperity, safe travel and bring good luck. Some cultures (Japanese, Roman and Irish) believe that frogs are symbolic of luck and that frogs coming into your house bring good fortune. This has been used as a literary tool in fairy tales that transform frogs into princes. In the fairy story, ‘The Princess and the Golden Ball’, the frog changes the princess into a kind and respectful woman.
Myths busted! Frogs and toads do not change into handsome princes when kissed!
What is the difference between frogs and toads? Toads are frogs! Both are members of the order Anura. Toads usually have dry, warty skin and short hind legs for walking instead of jumping. Frogs have smooth, moist skin and long, strong, webbed hind legs for swimming and jumping.
Why do frogs have a negative reputation? Frogs have a negative reputation because of their depiction in literature. The plague of frogs in the Bible is one of the earliest recordings of frogs used as a deterrent and harbingers of doom. Frogs have a slimy appearance - as a result, some people feel disgusted and repulsed towards these animals. In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the three witches stir their boiling cauldron for spell-casting, curse-inducing witchery. The toe of the frog was one of the many ingredients put into the cauldron. However, further research reveals that the "toe of frog" were buttercups! The Xhosa tribe, living in South Africa, believe that frogs carry spells or curses.
It's a myth! Some people believe that touching the warts on toads may result in the handler developing warts
Food for thought? ZooLab Rangers will introduce you to White’s Tree frogs (Litoria caerulea). They live in Australia and New Guinea in moist and forested environments. They grow to nearly 4 inches in length and vary from green to brown. These amphibians are docile and very people-friendly making them ideal candidates to help people overcome their phobias.