Plains Hog-nosed Snake

(Heterodon nasicus)

Common Name: Plains Hog-nosed Snake (aka Western Hog-nosed Snake)

Scientific Name: Heterodon nasicus

Reptiles Alive Name: Ms. Piggy

Hisssstory: Donated to us from another wildlife education organization.

RA Diet: Thawed frozen mice

Natural Diet: Carnivorous. Toads are the main food item and can make up nearly 80 percent of its diet in certain regions. The plains hog-nosed snake searches for its prey, often by using its shovel-like nose to dig in the ground.

Range: The geographic range of plains hog-nosed snakes extend from southern Canada to northern Mexico. Their range is bordered to the west by Colorado and Wyoming and in the east by Illinois.

Habitat: The plains hog-nosed snake prefers areas that are for the most part dry and sandy like the chaparral, grasslands, and desert ecosystems. They are often found out in the open, in burrows, or under rocks.

Size: The plains hog-nosed snake is small to medium in size, with an average length of about 20 inches and weight between 80 and 350 g.

Lifespan: Up to 20 years.

Reproduction: The mating season is between June and August, when males begin to actively search for females in their range. The males pick up the scent of a chemical released by females and use it to seek out their location. Females lay from 4 to 23 eggs in the sand and the baby hog-nosed snakes hatch in 52 to 64 days.

Conservation: Due to habitat destruction, the population has declined greatly in certain regions. As a result, plains hog-nosed snakes are listed as threatened or even endangered in some states in their range. Many human developments have pushed plains hog-nosed snakes from their sandy habitat into more wooded areas, where they are less equipped for survival. In these states there are programs to help save the snakes’ sandy habitats.

Cool Facts: The first line of defense for the hog-nosed snake is to make itself appear larger by making its head and neck flatter. This flattening is accompanied by extremely loud hissing and blowing. If this defense doesn’t work, the snake will shift into phase two. Phase two begins with the snake spasming uncontrollably, emitting a “death stench,” and then rolling over on its back, lying motionless and playing dead. Do not worry though, as soon as the predator leaves, the hog-nosed snake flips back over right side up and goes about its day. Below is a video of our completely harmless native eastern hog-nosed snake doing is best bluff. Our native eastern hog-nosed snakes come in a wide variety of colors and most have a obvious pattern. However, the one featured below is a melanistic or all black specimen.


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