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Oh Hai Hognose!

Illustration for article titled Oh Hai Hognose!

Just got back from a 10 day road trip from Mendocino, CA to Lewiston, Idaho and back. No energy or time to come up with something new, so here's an entry from my personal blog that was not posted to O'deck. So here's a mildly venomous, viper mimicking snake who tries like heck to miss actually biting. Will hiss and act like the biggest bad ass it can, then if really pressed, flips over, puffs up with air and dangles it's tongue out it's mouth. And they sometimes will really insist on the "I Am Passed On" part.


Meet the Hognose Snake.

Yep, hognose are famous for playing dead

As a kid I was always fascinated by the hognose snake. In the US, we have Western, Eastern and Southern. There is also a Mexican Hognose and a few other S. American species in the greater New World hognose family. There are old world hognose which are not closely related, but have similar morphology due to occupying similar ecologic roles.


New World Hognose (Heterodon) are all stout bodied, chunky little snakes with broad short skulls and a turn up rostrum. While some females may push 3 feet, most are smaller with males often maxing out at 12-18 inches. They are technically venomous being rear fanged but are considered harmless to humans and domestic animals. For the most part wild heterodon eat frogs, toads, lizards and sometimes fish.

Overall, the various hognose species are not considered to be in trouble but many subspecies and locality varieties are threatened by the normal littany of woes including human encroachment and habitat fragmentation or loss.


And like many species of snake, they face the difficulty of humans going out of their way to kill them on the grounds that the only good snake is a dead one. Being really excellent viper mimics works provided you are not dealing with humans with garden implements.

Here's a Mexican Hognose resisting playing dead, but trying to bluff with every gram of it's 5-6 inch long imposing self.

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