Eastern Hognose Snake Care Sheet

Scientific Facts

Common Name: Eastern Hognose Snake
Scientific Name: Heterodon platirhinos
Life Span: 8 to 12 years (in captivity)
Size: Adults are 18-45 inches in length
Habitat: Sandy soils, woodlands, meadows,
Country of Origin: Central New England

Physical Description

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This snake is called the puff adders. This type of snake has a thick body and can reach 45 inches or 115 centimeters long when they reach their adult stage. They are highly distinguished as having upturned snouts which come in a variety of color.

The coloration of the young ones is pinkish are brown to black blotches. These blotches are larger on their dorsal side and smaller on their body’s lateral side. Typically, they have 23-45 scale rows of dorsal having an anal plate, which is observed to be divided.

Males have 126 to ventral scales on average and 51 sub-caudal scales, meanwhile females were seen to have 138 ventral scales on average and 39 sub-caudal scales. Eastern hognose’s background can be gray, brown, black, or yellow. They come in large patterns and rectangular spots that comes down in the middle of their back and is similar to eyespots.

They also have keeled scales and lighter underside tail compared to other venters. The females coming from this species have a fine taper until the end of their tail; while the other sex comes in slight bulge near their cloaca, then the tail drastically tapers off. Males are smaller than females. 

When these snakes are confronted, they begin to inhale air, spread their skin around their neck and head, which resembles a cobra. Then, it will start to hiss and lunge as it pretends to strike. Later, they play dead as they roll on their back and open their mouth. These are characteristics of this species. Take note, they almost never bite.

Other Physical Structures

The word “Heterodon” means a different tooth. This has a reference to the hognose snake’s large dentition on the rear of its mouth. The eastern hognose snake has a pair of rear teeth that are enlarged every time they swallow a toad whose lungs are inflated with air. Its teeth will aid in pulling and holding their prey as it swallows it.

Hognose snakes are classified as the Opisthoglyphs, which means rear-fanged. These snakes have a gland called the ‘Duvernoys’ that is found in the upper jaw. This gland produces proteins that will eventually be useful during the process of digestion. Along with the protein produced is mucus, which is said to be a less dangerous type of venom.

In addition, hognose snakes’ saliva was said to possess toxic, while others say there is no toxic in them. The fangs are just an adaptation to secure food. For the record, there are no serious injuries indicated about the bite of the hognose snake.

“Platyrhinos,” the name of this species pertains to its upturned snout. The rostral scale is enlarged and upturned. This helps root out their choice of food. At the same time, this is a tool to burrow into the substrate that’s loose.

Life Cycle of an Eastern Hognose Snake

Stage # 1 – Eggs

When mating is done, the females keep the sperms in their oviduct for a month or more. Then, it produces eggs. The eggs are laid under the holes for ten to fifteen minutes. The outer covering is soft, like leather. The female snake’s guard and care until they hatch.

Stage # 2 – Young Snakes

Snakes warm the egg as they twitch their muscles to make the hatching faster. Then the young snake comes out as it bites the cover using egg tooth. It gets nutrition from egg yolk. Young snakes are known as snakelets. They are fed on rodents and reptiles. They shed skin four times a year. 

Stage # 3 – Adult Snakes

Young snakes reach maturity in two to four years. Adult snakes shed their skins annually or twice a year.

Nomenclature of the Eastern Hognose Snake

In the Northern part of America, this eastern hognose snake shares its genus “Heterodon” together with two more species. These are the Western Hognose Heterodon nasicus and Southern Hognose Heterodon simus.

Three Subspecies of the Western Hognose H. nasicus

  1. The Plains Hognose H. n. nasicus
  2. The Mexican Hognose H. n. kennerlyi
  3. The Dusty Hognose H. n. gloydi


This type of species is found in the United States, particularly in the eastern half. That would be from the Southern part of Florida North to Central New England, also the Great Lakes Region and including some regions in the southern part of Canada. These are also found throughout South Carolina and Georgia


This snake is highly adaptable. It means is found in various habitats like deciduous and coniferous forest such as freshwater swamps, and abuts salt marsh. They also have a preference for woodlands, fields, sandy soils, and coastal areas. They are found frequently on higher elevations of rocky outcrops.

Substrate and Lighting

You can keep a pair of this snake in a 30 to 50-gallon terrarium. For the substrate for a burrowing snake-like a hognose snake, dry leaves of maple and oak, folded or pelleted newspapers, thick paper towels, and aspen shavings. Provide a hiding area by putting a plastic box or small hollow of logs. Include a bowl of ample amount of water for drinking and soaking. It should be clean and fresh.

Illumination during daytime is given with an under tank heater that’s small. The heater should maintain a temperature that is suitable. It should be hot at 82 degrees F and cool at 70F. at night, it can go as low as 60 F. At daytime, it should be 92 to 95 F using a basking lamp. The hognose snake should be kept warm during winter and given food, but it can skip meals sometimes. It will take 90 days of dormancy if you want to breed this snake.

Again, the hognose snake prefers toad than other prey. Inducing this snake to eat mice is possible; however, it is a high-fat type of diet and doesn’t work overtime. The hatchlings require small toads. By the way, about 4 to 20 eggs are laid, and occasionally, the clutch is over 50 eggs. The hatchlings are 6 to 91/2 inches long.

Food and Diet

For this snake’s food, salamanders, frogs, insects, mice, and others are part of its diet. They hunt toads which have wide body using their wide mouth, curved teeth, and flexible jaws as well as their digging abilities.

Hognose snakes have immunity to the toxins coming from toads. This is because of the enlarged adrenal glands that produce large amounts of hormones. It is used to neutralize the toxins found in the skin of the toad.

Despite the toad’s inflation to escape from the snake, the hognose snake will make use of its enlarged teeth to puncture the toad. These species possess salivary glands which specialize in producing venom that’ for a mild amphibian. The venom subdues amphibians. It is harmless to both humans and animals.

Here are some advantages of giving dead prey or frozen food.

  • The live prey tends to be active when given to the young snakes.
  • Attacks from the live prey can cause injuries to your snake, including lacerations in the eyes, mouth, or tongue.
  • These attacks can cause trauma to your snake.
  • Your pre-killed food can be kept in your fridge for some months. Just warm it in using above the room temperature. Don’t use a microwave.
  • You can use tongs to let the pre-killed prey dance to make it appear not dead. The food should be warmer than the room’s temperature. It creates more appetite.

Feeding Schedule

When feeding your snake, the best time to do it is late morning, but you can do some experiments. Sometimes hognose snakes tend to be finicky; thus, it requires some sort of encouragement. It is observed that they strike at anything when seen moving. Giving dead pray with your forceps is better for safety reasons. Hognose snake grabs its prey anywhere on the prey’s body, so sometimes it leads to biting on the keeper’s hand.

The frequency of feeding your snake depends on the age. Baby snakes eat when they are 2 to 4 weeks. Then, they need to eat two times a week. More feeding means faster growing. Adult snakes must be fed more often. Don’t hold or handle them for 24 hours after feeding them. Having two or more snakes needs a separate enclosure for feeding.


It is during the day when hognose snakes are found active. They cross the roads in the fall and spring. Salamanders, frogs, birds, small mammals, and other invertebrates are their food. However, toads stay as their favorite meal. They seem to show immunity to poisons released by toads.

They have large teeth found in the back of their mouths used to puncture toads for easy swallowing. They become mature sexually when they are about the age of two. Breeding happens in spring and lays about 15 to 25 eggs in sandy soils. Incubation happens for one to two months.

The eastern hognose snakes demonstrate a bluffing behavior when confronted. This is unusual behavior. Their bluffing starts by inflating and coiling their heads. Then a loud hiss will start, then it strikes with its closed mouth. If it fails to threaten the predator, playing dead would be its next step. It will roll over on its back and open its mouth with its tongue out hanging. It releases a stinky smell.

When they play dead while rolling onto their belly, they will right away roll back again and continue its behavior. If it is harassed, regurgitating follows with digested toads. The predators don’t eat it because of the toxins coming from the toad. The snake stays in position, then move away after securing its safety.


Eastern hog-nosed snakes are preyed on by snakes, which also eat snakes like blue racers and milk snakes and large birds too. There are other animals that eat them, too, in spite of their slow nature and conspicuous habits.

It is because of this snake’s unique way of defending itself by acting startled. This discourages predators from eating them. It raises its head and neck, gets some air, and flattens its neck like that of a cobra. This scares the predator and runs away. They don’t bite, but they hiss and lunge. 


In most snakes, the appearance of centers of ossification is so similar.  On its 25th day of egg development, the ossification of the centra of its first cervical vertebrae is seen with the remaining vertebrae, which ossifies simultaneously.

On the 27th, centers of ossification in the palatine and pterygoid bones in the skull are seen, and two days later are the OC (ossification centers) of angular bones, pre-maxilla, dentary, vomer and exoccipital. On the 33rd day, what’ seen are prootic, prefrontal bone, and nasal OC. The maxilla and rib ossification centers are seen on day 34.

Day 36 comes with the development of the coronoid and articular bone found on the lower jaw. Day 36 is the ossification and process of the spinous. The ossification happens completely until its early maturity. The hatchlings are totally ossified. They grow 2 cm per month. Growing slows after reaching maturity, yet it never completely stops.

Mating and Reproduction

Eastern hognose snakes of both sexes have multiple mates in just a single period. The males follow a scent trail done by the female snakes. Mating happens once a year, mostly in the spring and early of the summer months.

Second breeding happens between September and October. The female stores the sperm from the male until the next spring. Males travel farther to look for mates while females just stay near areas where they can lay an egg to maximize the success in the hatching of eggs. Their nests are between 23 to 26 degrees C and are placed in areas highly exposed to sunlight. After finding a mate, copulation lasts for 1-3 days as the males alternate between hemipenes.

The gestation for females is from 40 to 50 days. Usually, females lay 10 to 13 eggs starting from June to July. The size of the clutch is related to the snout-vent length of the female. The eggs are seen laid and buried beneath the rocks for 10 to 15 cm in the sandy soils. The eggs weigh 3 to 12 grams, and they are hatched from August to September, and the hatchlings are 10 to 20 cm in length. As they grow, they can grow 2 cm per month. Males take 18 to 24 to turn mature. The SVL is 40 cm. meanwhile, females are of 45 cm of SVL when they reach their maturity.


Eastern hognose is still under America’s collection, unlike the Western hognose, which has found home herpeto culture. There are stereotypes about this species. This includes eastern hognose are strictly amphibian eaters, but when in the wild, they swallow toads. The captive keepers realized that this snake’s diet is very diverse contrary to what is previously believed. The young ones are opportunists and take lizards apart from amphibians. It also eats insects, nestling birds, and even frogs and tadpoles.

When in captivity, the eastern hognose snake enjoys salamanders, frogs, and toads, including chicken, fish, and lizard. It is possible to switch young to a rodent type of diet when scenting technique is used. The food is coated with amphibian scent with that of a lizard or fish. Some of the keepers choose to exchange a young platyrhinos to rodents by using force-feeding, a kind of technique.

A healthy and captive eastern hognose is fed with motivation. The hognose sees the lizard and catches it with force. These snakes are quick and good at catching. Feeding them with rodents is an advantage, but having various types of meals is important. You can include fish, lizards, toads, and frogs.

Cleanliness is vital. They should have fresh water available. Don’t handle them when you are sick. Eastern hognose snake is susceptible to infections in the respiratory. Often, it is too late to know that your snake is sick. There is a rare discharge from the nasal. Heat pad should be available the whole year and always check the temperature. Keep the temperature at 72-80 degrees F.  Avoid too much heat or cool. Don’t let the snake chills. Use an overhead light to increase temperature.  Wash your hands before holding them.

Parasites also show up most are mites. Mites like reptiles.  Be diligent in cleaning and inspecting to have control. Also, you should give them ample space to roam. They may climb in the tank. The ground medium of wide variety should be available.

Some keepers choose simple newspaper turf or a natural approach. You can use a thick bark of pine or sand and sprinkle some pine needles and pine cones. Hiding the hide box under the substrate. The lighting of full-spectrum works on the improvement of the environment as it enhances the natural color. There should not be a lot of moisture for the reason that it creates harmful bacteria that are against the snake’s sensitive skin.


To breed, it should be 45-50 F. make sure that your snakes are heavy when you put them in dormancy. You should fast them for some weeks before the brumation. This is to let them clear their bowels and get rid of internal problems like rot or impaction. This happens when the undecomposed food is not yet fully expelled before the period of cooling down. After the dormancy, the snakes are brought back to the active temperature, and feeding starts immediately. Fatten them for the next 30 days before the breeding starts. This is for healthy egg production.

Two weeks to 30 days after, the male hognose finds a female snake that emits pheromones. He moves with her by contorting his body to position and curve himself. After feeling receptive, the female allows copulation. She will raise her tail from the ground, and males will access the cloaca. This time turn the lights off. They will take half an hour. It can happen more for some weeks until the male loses his interest.

After the thirty days’ gestation, the female deposits her egg in the nest provided. Remove the eggs gently right away and be careful to avoid some problems or desiccation. Don’t rotate the eggs so it will not be damaged. Incubate the eggs between 82-86 degrees for forty-five to ninety days on vermiculite, moist paper towels, and pine shavings.

Hatchling Care

Maintain a high humidity for hatchlings to be dehydrated. The light half of the enclosure every day. Don’t give a saturated environment as it is undesirable and dangerous for the hatchlings. Fresh drinking water should be available.

Hatchlings are willing to feed after they are hatched. Give a supply of frogs and salamanders. Wait for a month to give small amphibians as their food. Their digestion happens quickly and easily. Separate offsprings from the adults to avoid cannibalism. At times, drop-dead syndrome happens without a cause. They die a few weeks after hatching.


In the wild, eastern hognose snakes live from 9 to 19 years, while when in captive, they live for 15-20 years.


Eastern hog-nosed snakes communicate by relying on the sense of smell in order to sense the environment and communicate with other snakes, especially during the breeding time. they have the sensitivity to vibrations and having fair eyesight.

Adaptation Facts

An Eastern Hognose Snake is not aggressive. They just attack to defend themselves when they feel threatened. They have various ways to defend themselves.

  • Their patterns and colors found on the skin will serve as a camouflage. It is difficult then to spot them.
  • They are impervious to the poison secreted by toads. This helps them not threatened in their natural habitat.
  • They inflate themselves to make themselves bigger that they look like a cobra. This is a trick.
  • They play dead as hang their tongue out.


Brumation is the hibernation period for reptiles. They stop eating, slow down and sleeps. This is to survive the winter. For the eastern hognose snake, their brumation starts in autumn then ends in the spring. It lasts for 3 months. It starts in December then ends in February.

Symptoms: Loss of appetite, prefers cool temperature, remains buried for some weeks, become less active

Treatment: This period is normal for snakes. Communicate with an experienced veterinarian.

Here’s what you need to do if you want to make it cool for the winter.

  • A month before the brumation, don’t give food. This is to clear out the digestive tract. The food in its body can cause poison as it sleeps.
  • Turn off all the sources of heat after 2 weeks.
  • At the start of November, put the snake in a big container like a box having holes. Put the substrate as its cushion.
  • Keep the temperature cool at 50-55°F but not higher than 60°F. if the snake suffers weight loss, that’s an indication of the problem and stops the brumation. Take it to the vet.
  • When brumation is about to end, bring the snake back to its enclosure. Heat sources must be kept turned off.
  • After 2 weeks, turn the heat sources on. In 2 weeks, the snake should be drinking and back to a normal state of activities.
  • In April, start giving food as usual.

How to Care for an Eastern Hognose Snake

Hognose snakes can live in enclosures or terrarium, having fish tanks or plastic containers.

Your enclosure should have the right temperature. Snakes like an ambient area and basking. Heat one side and the other side less. There should be a distinction between daytime and nighttime light.

Hognose snakes are desert dwellers. They need a slight and arid type of condition. Make sure the substrate is not too dry. Put a dish with clean and freshwater.

Clean the enclosure for a healthy environment for the snake.

You can give a dead or live mice, but varying the food is much better.

Handle your snake at least one or two times a week to be familiar with you.

Check this video to find out more how to care for an eastern Hognose Snake:

Availability – Where to Get One?

You can buy or purchase the eastern hognose snake at pet stores that especially sell reptiles, or you may also check some online sites or sources on the internet or local stores as another option.

Threats and Trends

Hog-nosed habitats are converted to waterfront recreational areas and agricultural fields. Thus, many of their habitats are destroyed, and the rest are under development from human use. Humans are also contributory to their extinction because they are killed. They are mistakenly killed, thinking it is dangerous. Most of these snakes live near the beach, so more persecution is higher. More additional protection is done for this species.

Current Status and Protection

Eastern hog-nosed snakes are, in fact, not harmful, but they are mistaken as rattlesnake having venoms. For this reason, humans kill them. In addition, they are killed by types of machinery on the farm or on the roadways or by vehicles. As the population of toads’ decline, their number can get affected too.

The eastern hognose snake is under the list of Threatened under the Ontario Endangered Species Act, 2007 and is Threatened under the federal Species at Risk Act. It is also designated as Specially Protected Reptile under the Ontario Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act. These said acts aim to protect the animals and habitat. Learn more about their conservation and help these species.

Health Conditions and Treatments

A) Shedding

Shedding happens regularly as snakes age and grow. Young ones shed more and adults shed to keep their health.

Symptoms: Dull/faded color, lethargy, bluish/semi-opaque eyes, loss of appetite, more defensive than usual, hiding more than usual

Cause: To accommodate gain/weight loss and growth

Treatment: Have a correct humidity and hydrate your hognose. Check your snake. If shedding is difficult, mix water into the substrate to have more moisture.

B) Internal Parasites

Internal parasites are more common in hognoses as caused by their affinity with amphibians that transmits parasites. Wild-caught hognose has more parasites.

Symptoms: Regurgitation, weight loss, diarrhea, loss of appetite, smelly poo

Cause: Eating live prey. Caught wild. Cohabitating with infected snake

Treatment: Bring a fresh sample of fecal to a vet. Oral dewormer is prescribed if positive with parasites. Dewormer having probiotic taste offsets the side effect from the dewormer. Freeze the food to kill the parasites.

C) Mites

They are tiny parasites that suck blood. To prevent, don’t buy animals that are infected. Wash your hands before you handle them and after. Disinfect your supplies with bleach.

Symptoms: Loss of appetite, prolonged soaking, rubbing, tiny black dots on the skin, tiny black dots around eyes, ears & vent (cloaca), dust-like poo of mites on the scales, tiny black dots on the snake.

Cause: Contamination caused by reptiles which are infected and poor hygiene, and caught in the wild.

Treatment: To get rid of head lice, use nix a treatment. It kills mites’ eggs and mites.


  1. Pour the cream into a dug with diluted water. Shake to mix well. Pour into the spray bottle.
  2. Remove the snake from its enclosure. Then, put in the tub. Then spray the animal. Don’t spray the eyes, head, or anywhere.
  3. Remove the substrate and throw it. Do it outside.
  4. Spray the enclosure entirely, especially the crevices and corners.
  5. Spray the entire enclosure inside and out, including all cage furniture.
  6. Replace the whole substrate using a paper towel or paper. Wait for 3 weeks before using again the substrate you use usually.
  7. Take the bowl of water.
  8. Put the snake back and spray it again, including the furniture, cage, and paper.
  9. Don’t return the bowl yet wait for 24 hours. This is to ensure that the solution is not washed away.
  10. Reapply Nix, if your snake poos while giving the treatment.
  11. Do this again after seven days. Then after seven days again, having 3 treatments in all to ensure you kill all the mites.

Prevention: keep the snake quarantined in two to three months in another room.

D) Respiratory Infection

Symptoms: loss of appetite, bubbly saliva, lethargy, whistling noise during breathing

Causes: Poor hygiene, cool temperatures, incorrect humidity

Treatment: Give the enclosure enough heat and humidity. Make an appointment with a vet for a prescription. Give a number of antibiotics to ease the effect.

E) Regurgitation

This is the expelling of food that hasn’t reached the stomach.

Symptoms: expels partially or undigested prey

Cause: Cold temperature, stress, and handling the snake in 48 hours of eating, overeating, dirty enclosure, illness, contaminated prey, dehydration, intestinal parasites.

Treatment: Let it rest. No handling or touching. Check if the symptoms get worse. Try giving another meal after 2 weeks of doing okay. Give a small amount.

FAQ Section

Is the eastern hognose snake poisonous?

The eastern hognose snake has mild venom, and there are very few records of hognose biting as well as injuries caused. This venom is only capable of sedating toads or other small prey.

Do hognose snakes play dead?

Yes, they do. This is a way for them to protect themselves from their predators. They do this with their tongue out.

Where can I find an eastern hognose snake?

This type of species is found in the United States, particularly in the eastern half. That would be from the Southern part of Florida North to Central New England, also the Great Lakes Region and including some regions in the southern part of Canada. These are also found throughout South Carolina and Georgia

What kind of snake flares its head?

Eastern Hognose Snakes are called the puff adder. They raise their heads, then puffs out and flattens their skin around their necks. This makes them look like a cobra.

Are hognose snakes venomous to humans?

Their saliva is slightly venomous just enough to kill their prey but not causing injuries to humans.

How long do eastern hognose snakes live?

In the wild, eastern hognose snakes live from 9 to 19 years, while when in captive, they live for 15-20 years.

Do Eastern hognose snakes lay eggs?

Yes, they do. The eastern hognose snake mate after hibernation. The females lay at the start of summer after they are incubated for more than a month. Then, the eggs are hatched in the late summer. They lay clutches of 15-25 eggs.

Are Eastern hognose snakes good pets?

Yes, they are. They are popular snakes as pets. They are small and easily housed. They are calm.

Do hognose snakes like to be handled?

Yes, they like to. Handle them regularly for one or two times a week.

Can I keep 2 hognose snakes together?

Yes, you can. However, separate them when you feed them so that they will not fight for food.

How long can a hognose snake go without eating?

They can live for two-three months but feed them every two weeks.

Will hognose snakes eat crickets?

The eastern hognose snake will eat crickets having calcium powder and can eat mice too.

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