Western Hognose Snake

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Is the Western Hognose Snake right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Western Hog-nosed Snake; Prairie Hog-nosed Snake; Texas Rooter; Texas Hog-nosed Snake; Plains Hog-nosed Snake; Spoonbill Snake; Spreadhead Snake; Spreading Adder; Sand Viper

Scientific name: Heterodon nasicus

The basics:
The Western Hognose Snake is well known for its dramatic threat display and its resemblance, to the untrained eye, to what may be termed a “generic venomous snake”. It is, however, quite harmless and a fine choice for both novice and experienced snake owners. The huge range extends from southern Canada through Montana, North Dakota and western Minnesota to central Mexico and Baja California, Mexico. Largely fossorial, it is found in sandy grasslands, meadows, farm edges and other habitats with loose or unpacked soil.

Appearance / health:
The stoutly-built Western Hognose Snake averages 15-32 inches in length. The dorsal region may be colored reddish or olive gray or various shades of tan and brown, and is marked with dark blotches and spots. A wide variety of color morphs have been established by breeders. As an adaptation to unearthing pray and sheltering below ground, the upturned snout serves as an effective “spade”.

This is a hardy species, with captive longevity sometimes exceeding 20 years. “Blister disease” and other skin infections can take hold if your pet is kept in a damp terrarium. Animals kept on sand should be moved to a bare-bottomed enclosure during feeding to avoid substrate ingestion and digestive tract impactions.

Behavior / temperament:
Western Hognose Snakes are relatively calm in disposition, and tolerate gentle handling. However, they may at first exhibit the threat displays for which they are so well-known - hissing, closed-mouth (usually!) strikes, a spreading of the head and neck and, finally, death-feigning. While fascinating to observe, this behavior should not be elicited for its “amusement” value, as it indicates a high degree of stress.

A single adult may be housed in a 20-30 gallon aquarium. Western Hognose Snakes prefer aspen or a similar substrate that allows for burrowing. Course sand may also be employed, but snakes kept in this manner should be removed at feeding time to avoid the risk of intestinal impaction due to ingested sand. The tank’s screen lid should be secured by cage clips. As Hognose Snakes rarely climb and often stay beneath the substrate, a sub-tank heat pad can be used to create a basking site. An incandescent bulb may be employed to warm the air further if necessary. Ambient temperature: 75-80 F. Basking temperature: 90 F.

Unlike their toad-specialist eastern cousins, wild Western Hognose Snakes consume many prey species, including rodents, shrews, lizards, salamanders and other amphibians, the eggs of various reptiles and ground-nesting birds, and even carrion. Pets do fine on a diet comprised solely of mice. Hatchlings often accept pink mice; picky-eaters can be coaxed with a lizard-scented or, in some cases, tuna oil-scented, pinky.

A cooling-off period of 2-3 months at 55-60 F and with a daylight cycle of 8 hours will often stimulate reproduction. Gravid females will deposit their 6-25 eggs in a container (set into the substrate if possible) of damp moss and sand. The eggs may be incubated in moist vermiculite, and hatch after 50-60 days at 80-85 F.

Written by Frank Indiviglio


great appetite, hardy snake, docile nature, great first snake, beautiful snake


specially designed nose, primitive venom delivery, extremely small size, little snakes, rear teeth

Helpful Western Hognose Snake Review

Western Hognose Snake

From hglad577 Nov 11 2013 11:08AM


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