Eastern Hognose Snake

This state-designated species of special concern is our pick for the best actor award!

Description

Eastern hognose snake. Photo credit: Kenneth Barnett

The eastern hognose snake, often referred to as the puff adder, averages 2’ in length but can be as long as 3’.  It is a heavy-bodied snake with keeled scales.  Its coloration varies; though, it is usually yellow and brown with light bands across the body and a series of dark spots running the length of the body.  Black or very dark individuals are not uncommon.  The underside is a mottled gray or yellow with the tail being somewhat lighter.  The eastern hognose is harmless and poses no threat to humans.

Life Cycle

In spring, after coming out of hibernation, males and females mate.  The female then excavates a nest several inches deep and lays between 4 and 61 eggs with the average number being 24.  She then covers up the nest and leaves.   Eggs hatch in 39 to 65 days yielding young that approximate 7 inches.  Hognose snakes reach sexual maturity in two years.  In mid- to late-October, the eastern hognose will use its upturned hog-like nose to burrow deep into the sandy soil and hibernate.  It may also take advantage of an existing mammal-created hole.

Additional Information

The eastern hognose snake’s defense mechanism is eye-catching and, to those who are aware of the snake’s harmless nature, comical.  When threatened, the snake widens its neck and inflates its body.  It then raises its head, opens its mouth and hisses loudly in the direction of the alleged predator.  It may also shake its tail and pretend to strike.  If this behavior fails to achieve its goal, the hognose rolls over onto its back, opens its mouth, and sticks out its tongue, playing dead!