Eastern Hog-nosed Snake

Heterodon platirhinos

Description

Eastern Hog-nosed Snakes (sometimes simply referred to as “hognoses”) are unique snakes found throughout the state of Mississippi. Their name reflects the upturned nature of the snout. This species is especially known for its dramatic defensive displays: hissing and flattening of the head (“spreading adder,” “puff adder”), and often playing dead. Color is highly variable and may include black, gray, brown, orange, and gray. The underside of the tail is noticeably lighter than the rest of the belly. This snake is found in various sandy-soiled habitats. Despite the wide range, anecdotal evidence suggest declines in their numbers in the southwest portions of their range, such as south MS and east LA. They are generally active diurnally and hunt toads and other amphibians.

Eastern Hognose, Bienville Par. (LA) © CJ Hillard

Identifying Traits

  • Highly variable in color, but thick neck and upturned snout are key characters.
  • Lighter tail than rest of belly (separates from Southern Hognose [rare])
Range

Habitat

Sandy-soiled forests or grasslands

Behavior

Diurnal hunters of toads as well as other amphibians

Diet

Toads and amphibians

Adult Eastern Hog-nosed flaring its neck, Bienville Par. (LA), © CJ Hillard
Typically patterned juvenile Eastern Hog-nosed, Bienville Par. (LA), © CJ Hillard