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Herps of SC/GA

Eastern Hognose Snake (Heterodon platirhinos)

Photos by J.D. Willson unless otherwise noted

species photo range map: SC and GArange map: eastern US

Description: Sometimes called "puff adders," eastern hognose snakes are thick-bodied snakes that reach about 46 in (115 cm) long. These snakes are easily distinguished by their upturned snouts, but they are variable in color. The eastern hognose has a background color that can be yellow, gray, brown, green or black, often patterned with large, rectangular spots down the middle of the back that may resemble eyespots. The scales of this snake are keeled and the underside of the tail is usually lighter than the rest of the venter. The females of this species have a tail that has a fine taper to the end of the tail, while the males have a slight bulge near the cloaca and the tail then tapers off drastically. When confronted, the hognose snake will suck in air; spread the skin around its head and neck (like a cobra), hiss, and lunge pretending to strike. Eventually, they will even play dead, rolling on their back and opening their mouth. Often, these displays alone are enough to identify this species. Despite this fairly convincing show, hognose snakes almost never bite.

Distribution and Habitat: Hognose snakes can be found in the eastern half of the United States from southern Florida north to central New England, the Great Lakes Region, and some regions of southern Canada. These snakes are found throughout Georgia and South Carolina . Eastern hognose snakes prefer woodlands with sandy soil, fields, farmland and coastal areas.

Habits: Hognose snakes are active strictly by day and are often seen crossing roads in the spring and fall. They prey on frogs, salamanders, small mammals, birds, and invertebrates; but toads are their favorite and almost exclusive food in most areas . Hognose snakes seem to be immune to poisons produced by toads, and are equipped with large teeth (called rear fangs) in the back of their mouths that are used to puncture inflated toads so that they may be more easily swallowed. Eastern hognose snakes generally became sexually mature at about two years of age. They are oviparous, breed in spring and usually deposit about 15-25 eggs in a depression in sandy soils under rocks or logs. The eggs incubate for about 1 to 2 months.

Conservation Status: Heterodon platirhinos is currently common in our region. It is protected throughout the state of Georgia, but not protected by any other southern states or the federal government.

Account author: Anna Tarter, University of Georgia - revised by J.D. Willson

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Upturned "hog" nose

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Defensive display

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Playing dead

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Juvenile eastern hognose snake

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Melanistic "black" phase

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Orange phase


Snakes of SC and GA
Reptiles and Amphibians of SC and GA
SREL Herpetology