Eastern Hognose Snake

All The World is a Stage

by: Brian Mihura The Wildlife Center receives creatures of enormous talent.  Not only do world-class songsters pass through annually, but so do masters of disguise, phenomenal architects and all too often, expert escape artists.  Topping the bill for actors, however, is the Hognose Snake. The Eastern Hognose Snake (Heterodon platirhinos), is a snake common to the eastern half of North America.  It is considered non-venomous, but toads would probably argue that point. Venom has been found in the saliva, but it only seems to affect toads and small amphibians. It is easily identified by its turned up nose. Coloration can range from sandy to almost black, but they are usually spotted shades of tan, copper and brown. Our current patient leans more toward shades of dark green and brown. Not considered an aggressive creature, it will put its acting skills to use when confronted. Act 1 begins with the flattening of the body and the adoption of a fierce open-mouthed display.  This often includes surprising audible hissing.  Common names for the Hognose include the hissing adder or puff adder.  To the uninitiated, there is no doubt that this snake is venomous and mean as …well…a snake. More than one person has mistaken the act to be that of a cobra’s, a snake not found in the New World.  Strikes may also be attempted by the Hognose, but these invariably take place with the mouth closed.  If this aggressive bluff fails, the Hognose moves on to Act 2. Act 2 involves the release of a foul-smelling musk and fecal matter and begins to writhe in death throes.    All of this is meant to send the signal that it is patently unappetizing fare – not only does [...]