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Eastern hognose snake’s color is varies greatly, with color phases ranging from yellow and brown to black and gray. The most reliable field mark is the turned-up, hoglike snout, which is used for digging out the toads that are its primary food. It usually ranges from 18 to 30 inches in length.
When the snake is threatened, it raises its head, puffs out, and flattens the skin around its neck – like a cobra. It hisses loudly, and lunges towards the threat. This does nothing however since it lunges with its mouth closed! If that doesn’t work, it rolls over onto its back, open its mouth, hangs it tongue out of the side of its mouth, and plays dead. It may play dead for several minutes before carefully turning over and looking around to see if it is safe. If it is rolled back onto its belly when it is playing dead, it will roll back onto its back!
The eastern hognose snake’s favorite prey is toads, but it also preys on frogs, salamanders, small mammals, birds, and invertebrates. The eastern hognose snake uses its nose to root around for toads in their burrows.
When a toad is disturbed by a the snake, it will often puff itself up like a balloon. The eastern hognose snake will uses his long rear fangs to pop the toad so it can swallow it.
Distribution And Habitat
The eastern hognose snake ranges over all of Ohio except the northeastern corner. Dry, sandy areas are preferred, especially the Oak Openings area of northwestern Ohio, where this generally uncommon snake is most abundant. In southern Ohio it occurs in most of the hill counties.
In the winter, eastern hognose snakes will dig a burrow to hibernate in or use an abandoned fox, skunk, or woodchuck den.
This snake mates in the spring and fall, and lays 15-25 eggs in June or July. The eggs are usually laid in a shallow cavity in loose or sandy soil after a 39 to 45 day gestational period. Once the young are born, there is no parental care.
Predators of the eastern hognose snake include owls, hawks, skunks, opossums, and other snakes.
An old myth says that the eastern hognose snake can mix venom with its breath and is then able to kill a person from a distance of twenty-five feet! In reality however, its breath is harmless.