Sciurophobia is defined as the fear of squirrels. Although it is a less common phobia, it is more common than one would think, affecting over 250,000 Americans. However, especially in the case of this phobia, it should be noted that only the most severe forms of a fear of squirrels can be termed Sciurophobia, as many people may simply dislike them or prefer to avoid them. A few possible signs and symptoms of Sciurophobia may include an increase in heart rate, sweating palms, rapid breathing, and knots in the stomach. However, these symptoms can be present in varying degrees, and are not the only possibilities. The potential causes of Sciurophobia are where this fear’s traits become a bit hazy. This is due to the fact that although the fear has become widely known and discussed, and although it is still scientifically treated, research on it is still being conducted and there is still major research left to do. Although some scientists are claiming that some causes of Sciurophobia may be genetic, through years of evolution, there is no real evidence there are any historical or evolutionary bases behind this phobia. However some psychologists are discussing the possible effect of Sciurophobia becoming a social trend, as seen through viral videos and much posting throughout the internet. Of course, there is always the most feasible cause, which is psychological trauma linked to squirrels, possible due to an imprinting incident of some kind. Possible treatments for Sciurophobia may include Exposure Therapy, Self-Help, Talk Therapy, Behavioral Therapy, and some medicines.
Fun Fact: The species of squirrel that has become such a legend at Penn State is the Eastern Gray Squirrel.