I feel it is a learned fear. But it comes from the parents. The parents impose their fears on the children. My main reason for this opinion comes from someone that does reptile shows. They will go back to a group that they did a few years before. The first year they did the show most if not all the kids came forward at the end of the show to touch the reptiles. The next time only a small % will. The other thing comes from someone that owns a fish and reptile store. Mothers will come in with their kids and see a snake and say that it is slimmy and icky. This drives me nuts since I grew up in a house that my mothers attude was the same. Now reptiles, snakes in particular, are a very large part of my life.