Eastern Hognose Snake

From Ohio History Central
Eastern Hognose Snake.jpg

The hognose snake (Heterodon platyrhinos) gets its name from the turned up, pig-like nose that it uses to dig for toads. Its coloring can range from yellow and brown to black and gray, making its nose the best method for identification.

Averaging 18 - 30 inches in length, the hognose prefers habitats of dry, sandy areas; fields, upland hillsides with few trees and meadows. In addition to toads, it also eats frogs, salamanders and small mammals.

It breeds from June to August, laying 4 - 61 eggs.

The snake is diurnal and can be found throughout Ohio except for the northeastern corner. It is most common in northwestern Ohio's Oak Openings.

It begins its hibernation in October and November.

The hognose is not as vicious as it lets on to be. When threatened, the hognose will coil its body and flatten its head and neck to appear like a cobra's hood. It will then hiss and strike with its mouth closed, often falling quite short of its target. Because of these defensive reactions, it has been thought in the past they were venomous and it has been called the puff adder, blow snake and hissing viper. However, if it is still threatened after all of this, the snake will "play ‘possum", rolling over on its back and remaining still, with its mouth open and tongue hanging out. When danger has passed, it will roll back over and move away. Eighteenth century Moravian missionary David Zeisberger stated, "the spreading viper or hissing adder, [is] an entirely harmless snake generally thought to be poisonous."

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