This young eastern hognose snake is only six inches long! Photo by Benny Mazur Image Source
The eastern hognose snake is a non-venomous snake that lives in woods and grasslands in eastern North America. Hognoses like open areas and sandy soil that is easy to dig in. Hognose snakes have bad eyesight and no ears. They “hear” by using their jawbones to sense vibrations in the ground caused by moving animals.
Hognose snakes have upturned noses that they use like shovels to dig into the ground. Their shovel noses are useful for finding underground toad burrows. Toads are a hognose’s favorite food, and hognoses are not affected by poisons that toads can release through their skin when they feel threatened.
If a hognose snake feels threatened by a possible predator, it puts on a frightening show. The hognose may lift its head up and spread out extra skin flaps that make it look bigger. To humans this makes a hognose look a lot like a viper or other cobra. Remember, hognose snakes are not poisonous! The hognose may even strike at whatever is threatening it, but the snake keeps its mouth closed the whole time, so it is really just a show to try and scare whatever seems threatening.
After it strikes out, the hognose pretends that it is dying. It thrashes around on the ground, rolls over on its belly and then sticks its tongue out as if it is dead. This act fools many predators, and if the hognose is successful and the predator leaves, eventually the hognose will flip itself over and crawl away.
This hognose snake has its neck flaps extended to make itself look bigger. By Benny Mazur Image Source
Benyus, Janine M. A Field Guide to Wildlife Habitats of the Eastern United States. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1989. Pp. 208-209. Oldfield, Barney and John J. Moriarty.
Amphibians and Reptiles Native to Minnesota. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1994. Pp. 175-178.