Identifying the Hognose Snake

   05.04.18

Identifying the Hognose Snake

The hognose (aka Spreading Adder) is a mildly venomous snake native to North America.

At first sight the serpent has a rather ominous look which may lead the observer to believe it is a cottonmouth. Then again, the markings are “somewhat” reminiscent of a copperhead, though the hognose is considerably darker than a copperhead.

When the hognose feels threatened it will flatten its head and body out. Markings on the back of the head may resemble that of a cobra.

Regardless of what the hognose looks like, its venom is only toxic to amphibians. Humans bit by the hognose may have an allergic reaction. As of when this article was published, there are no known cases of anyone dying from a hognose snake bite. However, this does not mean it is safe for someone to pick up and play with a hognose snake.

It seems every summer there is a certain place here on the farm where I see a hognose snake. The bad thing is, they lay very still and I do not see it until I almost step on it. Of course the first thoughts are, “Is that a copperhead?” as they have a habit of laying very still also. Then I step back, take a look and sure enough it is not a copperhead.

Texas hognose snake

The hognose snake also has a habit of playing dead and hissing. It seems to go out of its way to either scare you off, or make you think it is dead. All the snake wants is to be let alone so it can slither under something and hopefully find a meal.

  • Turned up nose.
  • Round pupils
  • Spreads head and body when threatened.
  • May play dead.
  • May have markings on back of head resembling a cobra.

From previous run ins with this snake, chances are it will be seen mostly in the early spring. As stated earlier, there is a certain place here on the farm it seems I see a hognose every year in early spring. Maybe is has a certain place it wants to lay eggs?

I remember the first time I saw a hognose, I may have been around 12 years old.  My dad called my brother and I over and he had a snake in his hands. Dad explained to my brother and I what a hognose was and how it acted. I think it may have even played dead when it was laid on the ground. The snake my dad showed my brother and I around 1980 was no more than 40 feet from where I saw the snake pictured in this article.

If the reader sees a hognose, please do not harm it.  It is not going to hurt anything, well nothing but frogs that is.

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