Western Hognose Snake

western hognose(Heterodon nasicus)

How big can a hognose snake get?
The western hognose can grow to be 2 feet long with some growing to 3 feet.

Where do Western hognose snakes live?
Because these snakes prefer a habitat with well-drained soils, and little vegetation, they are most commonly found in a dry prairie or oak savanna. Their range runs from southern Canada, through the plains of the United States and into the northern parts of Mexico. In Minnesota, they are most commonly found in the Anoka Sand Plain, which is an ecological region that stretches from North Branch to St. Cloud. Unfortunately, this area has a rapidly growing population, which is leading to habitat loss for the western hognose snake and other animals that live in this specific region of the state. In Minnesota, the western hognose will frequently make its home in the old burrows of pocket gophers.

What do hognose snakes eat?
Western hognose snakes will consume any animal that is smaller than them. They will eat frogs, toads, lizards, small snakes, the eggs of reptiles and ground nesting birds, rodents, and small birds. A young hognose snake may even eat insects.

How does a hognose snake defend itself?
The hognose is a clumsy and slow snake compared to other Minnesota species, which may be why it has such a dramatic defense against predators. When provoked, it will first spread its jaws and neck out like a cobra and puff up its body. It will then hiss and strike with a closed mouth. If the snake is still under attack, it will put on a dramatic show to attempt to drive the predator away. The snake will twist and turn its body as if it is in pain, roll over onto its back and play dead. While it is pretending to be dead, its mouth will be open with its tongue hanging out, and it may even throw up its last meal! Its body will even be limp and lifeless if picked up while in this state. Nothing will persuade the snake to move until it knows the threat is gone.

What eats the hognose snake?
Hawks, crows, fox, coyotes, raccoons, and larger snakes are sometimes predators of the western hognose. The greatest danger to hognose snakes, though, is not other animals, but habitat destruction.

Why does the hognose snake flick its tongue?
Snakes taste and smell the world using their tongues. The two tips on their tongues pick up odor and taste molecules and transport them to the Jacobson's organ on the roof of the snake's mouth. The faster the snake is flicking its tongue, the more intently it is "sniffing" the air.

Can snakes hear?
Their hearing is thought to be quite limited, but they can sense vibrations in the ground.

Do snakes blink?
No, snakes have no eyelids. Instead they have protective clear scales on the surface of their eyes. When they shed, these scales come off with the rest of the skin and are clearly visible.

Do hognose snakes hibernate?
Yes. Hognose snakes will hibernate from September through March or April in mammal burrows. How long can a hognose snake live? In captivity, a western hognose snake can live 10-20 years.

What are some other names of hognose snakes?
Some other names for the western hognose include: blowing adder, blowing viper, bluffer, and the faux viper.

The information above is common scientific knowledge. For a list of specific resources, visit the Animal FAQ Resources page.

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