Everything You Need to Know About Hognose Snakes

Posted by Samantha Bubar

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Hognose snakes are small and stout and full of tricks!

Native to North America and Mexico, these harmless snakes range from 18 inches to three feet depending on gender and age. These small snakes are most noticeable by their adorable upturned snouts!

Hognose snakes are on the timid side and like to burrow in sandy soil and hide in their bedding. When threatened, hognose snakes have a variety of ways to deter predators. They will sometimes flatten their neck and raise up to strike like a cobra, but rarely bite, earning them the nickname, “puff adder.” They are rear-fanged and while they are venomous to frogs and toads, they are harmless to humans.

If that doesn’t work, they play dead! They flop over with their belly exposed and their tongue hanging out of their mouth to trick their predator. Sometimes, if extremely frightened, they will musk as part of their antics. If you try to flip them over, they will roll back to their “dead” position to try and convince you further. The act of playing dead is called thanatosis in the animal world.

Their smaller size and adaptable nature make them great pets. They consume their prey live and eat appropriately sized rodents roughly once a week. They have minimal tank requirements (a water dish and a few hides), and an easily attainable heat requirement (temperature gradient with a high of 80 degrees F, basking temperature of 90 degrees F).

There are lots of different species of hognose, but the Heterodon nasicus, the Dusty hognose snake and the Western hognose snake or plains hognose snake are considered the best types for captivity. The Eastern hognose snake, Heterodon platirhinos, can also be kept as pets but slightly more rare and have tougher feeding requirements. Finally the Southern hognose snake, Heterodon simus, is found in the Southeast United States from North Carolina to Florida and west to Mississippi. That species is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

The hognose lifespan ranges from 18 to 20 years!

Hover over the image for more information. 

Head

Hognose snakes have an upturned snout which helps them dig and burrow in using a side-to-side motion. In the wild they also do this to dig up eggs to eat.

They also make a loud hissing sound by forcing air through their distinctive skull and rostral bone structure.

Eyes

Hognose snakes have round eyes and round pupils.

Mouth

They are rear-fanged and rarely bite humans. They use these fangs to restrain prey in conjunction with their strong jaws.

Coloration

Hognose snakes come in a wide variety of colors from light brown with black and white markings to reds, oranges, greens, browns and melanistic (black). They can have blotchy markings or be solid in color.

Length

Female hognose snakes are larger than males, reaching lengths of three feet. Males are usually anywhere from 18-24 inches.

Tail

The tail of a hognose is skinny and tapered.

Image via: Reptiles Magazine

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Everything You Need to Know About Hognose Snakes