Species at Risk Database

Species at Risk Database

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Eastern Hog-nosed Snake

Heterodon platirhinos

COSEWIC Status: Threatened

COSSARO Status: Threatened

C. Sissions

Description

  • Adult body length of 50 to 84 cm (20 to 33 in.). Body is quite thick and the tail short when compared with other snakes.
  • Colour is variable. Some individuals may have dark spots on a light background, others are a creamy olive, grey or brown colour, and others are completely black (melanistic).
  • A dark elongated spot stretches along both sides of its neck;
  • An obvious upturned nose for which it is named.

Food

  • Feed almost solely on toads. Their “hog nose” helps them dig for toads.
  • Other food may include amphibians, small mammals, birds, and insects.

Habits and Reproduction

  • Will burrow underground in loose soil when not feeding throughout the day.
  • When harassed or afraid the hog-nosed snake will raise the front of its body off of the ground and spread its neck, similar to a cobra. It will hiss and strike out harmlessly at its opponent. If the harassment continues the hog-nosed snake may show signs of distress, produce musk, turn over on its back and play “dead”. It will remain in this position until the potential predator retreats.
  • Mating in April or May and maybe September, approximately 20 eggs are laid in June or July in a shallow burrow in the sand and hatch in late August or September.
  • Young have dark blotches on their backs and light grey or brown spots on their sides. Their belly is dark, but the throat and underside of the tail are light coloured.
  • Grow quickly until their second or third year when they reach maturity.

Habitat

  • Almost any terrestrial habitat type. Seem to prefer sandy, well-drained soils.

Threats

  • Habitat loss, road mortality and direct persecution are the greatest threats to this snake.

Conservation Actions

  • With its fake “cobra like” behaviour, the hog-nosed snake is mistakenly believed to be harmful. Help inform others of the behaviour of this snake and share the message to leave the snake alone.
  • Please report sightings of this snake!

Range Map

Photo Gallery

Credit: Jeremy Rouse

Easten Hog-nosed Snake Death Act Credit: Jeremy Rouse

Easten Hog-nosed Snake Flattening Head Credit: Jeremy Rouse

For more information about the Eastern Hog-nosed Snake in the Georgian Bay area, contact:

Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
SAR Biologist
7 Bay Street
Parry Sound, Ontario
P2A 1S4
Phone: 705-746-4201

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