Western Hognose Snake (Heterodon nasicus)
Order: Squamata, Family: Colubridae
Grows to approximately 16-25 inches in length.
Heavy-bodied, broad neck, spade-like upturned snout and enlarged teeth toward rear of upper jaw.
Base color IS pale brown, buff, or gray; large dark brown spots on back, smaller spots on sides; and "washed" black belly.
II. GEOGRAPHICAL RANGE AND HABITAT:
- Grows to approximately 16-25 inches in length.
- Heavy-bodied, broad neck, spade-like upturned snout and enlarged teeth toward rear of upper jaw.
- Base color IS pale brown, buff, or gray; large dark brown spots on back, smaller spots on sides; and "washed" black belly.
- Ranges from southern Alberta and northwest Manitoba; south to southeast Arizona, Texas, and into northern Mexico; also Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, Missouri, and Arkansas.
- Sandy or gravelly prairies, open woodlands, farmlands, river floodplains, semi-desert habitats and mountain canyon bottoms.
IV. LIFE CYCLE/SOCIAL STRUCTURE:
- Toads, frogs, salamanders, lizards, snakes, turtles and reptile eggs.
V. SPECIAL NOTES/ADAPTATIONS:
- Solitary; diurnal, i.e., active during the morning and evening.
- Preyed upon by large birds and snakes.
- Female lays clutch of 4-23 eggs underground from June to August; young are approximately 7 inches long at birth.
- Life span is generally 15-18 years.
VI. ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT:
- When cornered, flattens head and neck, and strikes with open mouth, hissing but seldom biting. If this behavior does not deter a threat, may also "play possum," suddenly turning belly up, writhing violently for a few moments, then lying still with its mouth open and tongue lolling. Also, the tail is often held near its head in a tight coil and excrement is discharged.
- Burrower that uses its shovel-shaped snout for digging.
- Enlarged rear teeth (or fangs) used to puncture the lungs of live prey, helping it to swallow; saliva believed to be toxic (although usually innocuous to humans).
VII. POPULATION STATUS:
- Helps keep rodent population in check.
VIII. MORE HOGNOSE SNAKE FACTS:
- Habitat destruction or other environmental changes may force it out of its natural habitat.
- Protected by state law in some areas.
- The hognose's Latin name, Heterorodon, means "different tooth." This refers to the enlarged teeth in the rear of the mouth.
- Also known as the "Puff Adder." A common folk myth states that a puff adder's breath is mixed with poison and can kill a person at a distance of 25 feet. Although the bite of a Hognose snake can produce swelling and a burning sensation, it rarely bites people and is not poisonous. It does puff itself up and hiss when threatened, but its breath is harmless.