Eastern Hog-nosed Snake (Heterodon platirhinos)
Description: A thick-bodied, slow-moving snake with a flattened, upturned "nose." Color is
variable some have dark spots and blotches on a yellow, orange, or brown
background, but other specimens are solid black, brown, or olive with little or
no visible pattern. Easily identified by defensive behavior (see below). Adult
length: 20 to 40 inches.
Photos © Jim Harding
Habitat and Habits: A snake of open, sandy woodlands - found in the wooded dunes of western Michigan. The upturned
snout is used to burrow after toads, a favorite food. When threatened, hognose
snakes puff up with air, flatten their necks and bodies, and hiss loudly. (This
has led to local names like "puff adder" or "hissing viper.") If this act is
unsuccessful, they will writhe about, excrete a foul smelling musk, and then
turn over with mouth agape and lie still, as though dead. Despite this
intimidating behavior, Hog-nosed snakes are harmless to humans.
Reproduction: Female Hog-nosed Snakes lay from 4 to over 50 eggs in
early summer, usually in an underground burrow. The young snakes hatch out about
60 days later, and are usually grayish with black blotches. Adult coloration
appears as they mature. The young spread their necks and hiss immediately upon
Range and Status: Though recorded from most of the Lower Peninsula and
the southern tip of the Upper Peninsula, Hog-nosed Snakes are most common in the
western and northern LP. Their numbers have declined in many places, in part due
to persecution by humans who mistakenly believe they are dangerous.
Related Documents> Eastern Hognose Snake Occurrences Map - 110652 bytes