Eastern Hognose Snake
Heterondon platirhinos

Family: Xenodontidae - Robust Rear-fanged Snakes

Typical Adult Size: 20 to 33 inches

Reproduction: egg laying

Eye Pupil: round

Dorsal Scales: keeled

Anal Scale: divided

SC Range Map

Additional Images

Although this species has large rear fangs and a mild venom, it is considered harmless to humans. Eastern Hognose Snakes can be found statewide.

This snake is one of the world's most interesting species and best animal actors.

When confronted, its first defense is an aggressive display in which it spreads its neck horizontally, inflates its body, hisses loudly, and strikes. The very impressive display has earned it the misname of "Spread Adder" and other frightening names. This is all an act. The strike is made with a closed mouth, and it is very, very rare for a Hognose to actually bite a person, even when handled.

If aggression fails to send the threat on its way, the Hognose will pretended to die. It will writhe, open the mouth, let the tongue dangle, salivate and get dirt in the mouth, roll onto its back and become motionless. If picked up the snake will be totally limp and feel like a dead snake. If the threat moves out of the snake's view, it will begin to peak around in a few minutes, and, if the coast is clear, right itself and crawl away. The only flaw in its death act is that if rolled it onto its stomach it will immediately roll onto its back.

The Hognose principally eat toads. It hunts them in the toads' burrows during the day, using its upturned nose to root them out. As a defense to being eaten, toads will blow themselves up like a balloon. The Hognose has an answer to this defense. The snake has some rear teeth with are much longer than the others, called rear fangs. These teeth will puncture the toad's skin and deflate it.

Adult Eastern Hognoses are usually about 30 inches in length. These snakes have patterns of varying colors, including blacks, grays, browns, yellows, and oranges. There is also a black phase. In black phased specimens, the pattern can be seen in grays in the juveniles, but soon turns to plain black. Black phase specimens have apparently become more common in recent decades.

These snakes lay eggs.

Additional Images:

Eastern Hognose Snake, Heterondon platirhinos
patterned adult, spreading
patterned adult, spreading
patterned adult
patterned adult
adult (black phase), spreading head
adult (black phase), playing dead
juvenile (DOR black-phase), approx. 18 inches
young adult (DOR black-phase), approx. 26 inches
adult, skull showing rear fang teeth
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July 07, 2009
Contact: South Carolina Reptiles and Amphibians