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10 Animals Jamaicans Fear

by Deon Clarke | Associate Writer



Jamaican Lizard

Photo Credit: Jamaican Lizard

What are you afraid of? Maybe nothing. However, you might be surprised to know that many Jamaicans including men are afraid of some very little things, things that you might not even consider. There’s a popular quote in Jamaica that says “What is a joke to one man is death to another”. In essence, everyone’s opinion may be different based on how they view things and it is important that we take each other’s viewpoint into consideration. What makes one thing a terror to one person but a pleasure to another? We might never know.

So let’s take a look at 10 things (in no particular order) that absolutely terrifies some Jamaicans. See if yours is listed. I’ll tell you about mine at the end.

  1. Rats or Mice - Many Jamaicans are truly afraid of rats or mice (muss muss). These animals pose a serious health hazard around the home and in business places alike, especially restaurants and supermarkets. Persons are known to contract diseases such as Leptospirosis from their urine and droppings. They are a nuisance in general chewing up everything they can get a hold of. You will find many Jamaicans purchasing rat traps or glue traps to get rid of them. Apart from the risks associated with them, they move around very quickly causing people to run and jump from them and some people just view them as being unsightly. These are definite ones to be scared of and for good reason.

  2. Dogs – Dogs are considered to be “a man’s best friend” and this is true for many Jamaicans. However, there are some who are terrified of them, and not necessarily chained dogs but the stray mongrel dogs that have a habit of just barking at anyone or anything that moves. Many Jamaicans, both adults and children have fallen victim to unprovoked dog attacks especially the Pit-bull breed. Dogs have also been known to turn on their very owners at times. In General, dogs can seriously injure or even kill you and for that reason, many Jamaicans are afraid of them.

  3. Lizards – This one is a biggie. I think this one could very well top the list. Though so small, lizards tend to drive so much fear in so many Jamaicans, especially women. They are considered to be unsightly for the most part. There’s the croaking lizard found in almost every home in Jamaica, especially at nights when they take turns in capturing bats hovering above the lights. They are considered to be associated with evil spirits as well. Then there’s the green lizard that can grow quite a few inches in length and turns black when angry and does not readily back away from anyone.

    There have been horror stories of these lizards chasing people especially if provoked and sometimes for more sinister reasons like “obeah”. There’s also the gala wasp (called galliwasp in Jamaica, it is believed that if this one bites you you have to find the nearest water as if it reaches water before you, you will die) and ground lizard, usually found in construction, soil for dumping as well as in sand and has been said to chase persons as well.

    Jamaican Iguana

    Photo Credit: Indeginous Jamaican Iguana

    I think the most feared lizards are the protected iguanas that are let loose in the hills of Hellshire in St. Catherine and God knows where else. There are also the common lizards found in trees and plants all over, where as soon as you lift a finger, they run away. All lizards are scary indeed, for the true “lizard-fearers”. Funnily enough, a few people have certain types as pets.

  4. Cockroaches – Cockroaches can be just as much of a health hazard as rats. There are no two ways about it. They are just nasty, especially in the home and food establishments. I for one, will not hesitate to smack one upon sight but some Jamaicans are really scared of them and will actually run away from the roaches. The most common and most feared are those with a dark brown-reddish colour, which are capable of flying as well as the grey-coloured ones with a hard outer shell. As simple as they are, they really cause a lot of fear in Jamaicans.

  5. Bats – Yes bats, these are called ratbats in Jamaica because of how similar they look to rats. A number of Jamaicans are afraid of these animals. They usually hide under the roofs of houses where they make their nests and can cause quite a scare at nights with their flutter and screeches. Jamaicans are also particularly afraid of the giant black bats. These are sometimes seen as an omen for bad luck or warning of someone close about to die or have actually died and have come to visit. Yes! Jamaicans are very superstitious so a giant black bat is not a good sign. They are usually chased away very quickly.

    Jamaican Snake

    Photo Credit: Jamaican Snake

  6. Snakes – Who wouldn’t be afraid of snakes? Though not seen very regularly, there are many snakes in Jamaica especially the yellow snakes and also water snakes which by the way are not poisonous. There are also other types of snakes located in the hilly interior parts of the island. Snakes are usually more visible in times of significant drought and understandably so, they seek water. They can also be found where a lot of mongoose tend to be. Otherwise, snakes are not normally seen around. Regardless of where they are, however, Jamaicans are afraid of them and might even kill them when spotted, before alerting the authorities (NEPA).

  7. Wasps - Wasps are among the most feared insects in Jamaica. From the black wasps to the regular wasps found on back sieves of houses or trees or just about anywhere they choose to make their nests. Many choose not to call in the pest control but to do the jobs themselves using smoke and insect spray. Many have been stung mercilessly in the attempt. But the fear of the “sting” is enough reason to keep Jamaicans away from them or destroy the nests at the first sight. Some associate having wasps around with having money – superstition again, lol.
    .
  8. Frogs – “Bull-frogs” as they are popularly known in Jamaica is another, that many Jamaicans are afraid of. Though not seen on a large scale, they do appear and seem very out of place when this happens. There is even superstition associated with their presence at times as they are considered to be a bad omen. There are also toads, the smaller version that makes a lot of noise. These are more frequently seen, almost like lizards in some areas, hopping around. Nevertheless, they scare many Jamaicans.

  9. Crabs - Many Jamaicans love to eat crab meat or crabs. However, a number of these same people are afraid of the same live crabs that they eat. Others who do not care much about eating crabs are still pretty much afraid of them, especially when they come scratching on the door or worse yet slip inside the house for a surprise visit. They usually show up when there are very heavy rains and they are flooded out of their holes.

  10. Mini-flies or gingi-flies – Mini-flies or what Jamaicans call “gingi-flies” are somewhat feared by some Jamaicans but are more widely seen as a nuisance as they can get into the eyes easily and create problems. They are usually found in swarms and can appear just about anywhere outside at some point. Don’t be surprised if you are walking on the road and bump into a swarm. The impulsive thing to do is to fan them away and get out of the area quickly, hoping that none gets into your eyes.

So there you have it. Did you see anything you’re afraid of here? I promised to tell you about mine. So if you haven’t figured it out by now, it’s the lizards, :-). I’m absolutely terrified of them so I try to keep my distance, lol. As a result, I never judge anyone on their fears, it’s something they have to get over on their own. I hope I will one of these days.

I also recommend you read Plants and Animals in Jamaica Another intriguing aspect of our country.

Regards,
DC

References:
  • Most Feared Animals In Jamaica, My-Island-Jamaica, https://www.my-island-jamaica.com/most-feared-animals-in-jamaica.html
  • 10 creepy crawlies Jamaicans fear, Loop Jamaica, https://jamaica.loopnews.com/content/10-creepy-crawlies-jamaicans-fear
  • 11 superstitions (many) Jamaicans live by , Loop Jamaica, https://jamaica.loopnews.com/content/11-superstitions-many-jamaicans-live

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