Anatidaephobia: How to Fight a Fear of Ducks


There are numerous phobias out there. Some are medically recognized while others are not. Anatidaephobia is not medically recognized.

Phobias can be intriguing and sometimes even seem irrational. But they should be treated seriously when someone claims to suffer from them. While a phobia might seem humorous, it might be a serious problem to the affected individuals.

Read on all about anatidaephobia, when to get help, and how to get the best online counseling.

What Is Anatidaephobia? Everything Explained

Simply put, it is the fear of a duck watching you. However, instead of the person being afraid that a duck will harm them, they just fear that somehow, somewhere, a duck is watching what they do.

The person fears that a duck or goose is keeping tabs on them at any given moment of the day. It is a combination of two words: Anatidae (biological family of geese and ducks) and Phobos (fear in Greek).

The phonetic anatidaephobia pronunciation is (ant-uh-tid-uh-fo-bee-uh).


The fear of being watched by a duck was initially illustrated in “The Far Sides” comic by the creator Gary Larson. The phobia then gathered more interest when Tammy Duffey wrote a satirical article about the symptoms and even treatment. His idea was then used in an advertisement next to the article.

Is It a Real Phobia?

Anatidaephobia is a fictional or fake phobia. It is a satirical fear that people joke about in videos and images across various social media channels. It is not a medically recognized condition and has no scientific evidence of being a mental disorder.

However, it’s important to note that while the fear of the duck has its roots in comedy, phobias are nothing to laugh about. Having a deep irrational fear affects individuals negatively and even messes with their daily lives.

People create fictional fears to support the idea that any person can be afraid of anything. Thus, anything can be a phobia.

Technically, anatidaephobia is not a real phobia since it is not even a recognized psychiatric term. However, duck phobias can be real when a person has had a bad experience with one or a flock of them.

That said, humorous fears can be therapeutic for a person suffering from them. One might benefit from laughing when their phobia is expressed in comics. It can help them on the journey to recovering from their fear.

Causes of Anatidaephobia

Causes of Anatidaephobia

The fear of geese can result from a negative/traumatic experience involving geese or ducks. Having a negative experience with ducks is not uncommon because they tend to be quite aggressive and unpredictable.

Ducks can attack individuals without provocation. For some, the experience might be a duck nibbling, and for others, it might just swoop and steal food from their hands.

It is why people should admire swans and other beautiful birds from afar. A person can be scared of ducks because of an incident that occurred to them as a child. It can be the fright from being nipped or hearing the loud flaps and noises that ducks make when they close in on their food or prey.

When such an incident occurs at a young age, it can be terrifying. The person can carry that fear to adulthood and even feel intimidated when there are ducks around.

What’s worse is that this phobia might seem silly, so one might not be driven to speak to someone about it. So, that’s why it’s a good idea to take even the phobias that seem funny seriously.

Signs of Anatidaephobia

The phobia of ducks watching you brings symptoms that are similar to other fears. People struggling with phobias usually have three major types of indications:

  • Physical indicators
  • Emotional symptoms
  • Mental signs

These indications are different among individuals because people experience and react to situations differently. However, some symptoms such as anxiety are common among most people with phobias.

Someone who is not afraid of ducks might find the idea of a duck scaring them laughable, but a person with anatidaephobia might be experiencing constant fear related to ducks. Fear can make the person make massive changes to their daily lives.

For one, a person might even refuse to leave the house because they fear they might come across a duck. Such extremes can affect their day-to-day responsibilities or activities, including work.

In terms of physical symptoms, a person with anatidaephobia might experience:

  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Increased heart rate
  • Dry mouth
  • Feelings choking
  • Paralyzing fear such that one becomes rooted to one spot

Someone might even lose control of their body and experience dizziness, crying, or even faint.

For the emotional symptoms, the fear of a duck watching you can invite the feeling of being trapped or dying for the extreme cases. Someone with anatidaephobia will also try everything to avoid any location known to house a duck or geese population.

How to Treat Anatidaephobia

While the phobia of being watched by ducks isn’t real, the fear of birds is, and it might include ducks and geese. Like other phobias, people afraid of ducks can diagnose themselves and realize that their fear is irrational.

But at the same time, they might also feel powerless against it. Someone with such a phobia might choose to suffer in silence because they fear they might be laughed at if they seek professional help. Thus, anatidaephobia may continue to affect them for years to come until they seek help from a therapist.

The good news is, there are treatments and coping mechanisms one can adopt to manage this fear. So, let’s explore some of the options for a person facing this challenge.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy involves identifying unhealthy thought patterns that contribute to phobic responses and “reprogramming” the brain to have more constructive and realistic thoughts.

The goal of CBT is to eliminate the anxiety response that stems from the fear trigger.


Phobias like the fear of being watched by ducks can also be treated through medication. Medications can work well when used with psychotherapy. They can help manage the symptoms of anxiety while the person gets the help they need through therapy.

How to Cope with Anatidaephobia

Seeking professional help is the best way to deal with a specific phobia. However, not everyone might be willing to do it. Some might fear that their phobia will be ridiculed and thus might choose to keep it to themselves.

That’s where coping strategies can be helpful until a person chooses to seek help. We have identified several coping approaches that anyone dealing with a phobia can use to manage their anxiety.


While deep breathing, a person can also choose to visualize a calm or peaceful scene. An example is thinking about relaxing in a meadow or a beach.

You can even just envision curling up in a warm blanket watching a relaxing film. These thoughts will try to replace those brought on by the fear that a duck is watching you.

Practicing Breathing Exercises

Breathing exercises are reliable for calming a person down when anxiety kicks in. Slow deep breaths help the body return to its relaxed state when you start feeling anxious.

Distracting Oneself

A good distraction can go a long way in helping you manage the fear of being watched. You can involve yourself in various activities that take your mind off it, such as:

  • Listening to music
  • Taking a walk
  • Exercising
  • Reading a book
  • Watching a light film

Challenging Your Thoughts

The mind is usually your enemy when dealing with a phobia. Sometimes you may start thinking about the worst-case scenarios about a situation which leads to even more fear. You should challenge these thoughts and try to replace them with more positive ones.

Start by asking yourself if your thoughts are realistic. If you fear that a duck is watching you, you can ask yourself why it would be watching you and try to use logic to see if it is realistic.

The Bottom Line

While anatidaephobia is not recognized as a mental health condition, being afraid of ducks is still a serious issue. If you suspect you are developing a specific phobia, you should not ignore the symptoms. Phobias can disrupt a person’s life and their ability to enjoy it. Therefore, they cannot be ignored or taken lightly.

Instead, seek professional help. Speak to your therapist or doctor about your fears, and they will give you advice on the best course of action. They might even recommend therapy to help work through any underlying trauma related to your fear of ducks.

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