Overview

Brief Summary

Common Names

Eastern hognose snake

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Comprehensive Description

Description

H. platirhinos can reach a maximum length of 1 m, averaging between 50 to 84 cm. All species of this genus can be recognized by the characteristic upturned and pointed snout. The dorsal coloring in H. platirhinos varies greatly, it can be khaki-green, yellowish-brown, or reddish-brown, all patterned with various combinations of darker spots and splotches. Some individuals are entirely black, but most are yellowish with dark brown blotches (Tennant, 2003). Regardless of age or color, there is always a dark blotch behind the jaw. This blotch extends posteriorly along the sides of the neck. The ventral scales are typically gray (occasionally with orange blotches), and the underside of the tail is usually lighter than the rest of the belly (Tennant, 2003).

The body is H. platirhinos is stocky, with a short head that is not distinct from the wide neck (Tennant, 2003).

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Distribution

Range Description

This species occurs widely in the united States, extending into southern Canada. Its range extends from southern New England through southern Ontario to Minnesota and South Dakota, and south to southern Texas, the Gulf Coast, and southern Florida (Conant and Collins 1991, Ernst and Ernst 2003).
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Eastern hog-nosed snakes are native only to the Nearctic. They are found throughout the United States east of the Rocky Mountains and into southern Canada. They are absent from some areas in the Great Lakes region, such as the areas south of Lakes Ontario and Erie and eastern Wisconsin.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native )

  • Harding, J. 2000. Amphibians and Reptiles of the Great Lakes Region. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press.
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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) The range extends from southern New England through southern Ontario to Minnesota and South Dakota, and south to southern Texas, the Gulf Coast, and southern Florida (Conant and Collins 1991, Ernst and Ernst 2003).

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Geographic Range

Eastern hog-nosed snakes are native only to the Nearctic. They are found throughout the United States east of the Rocky Mountains and into southern Canada. They are absent from some areas in the Great Lakes region, such as the areas south of Lakes Ontario and Erie and eastern Wisconsin.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native )

  • Harding, J. 2000. Amphibians and Reptiles of the Great Lakes Region. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press.
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Continent: North-America
Distribution: SE Canada (Ontario), USA (Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, SE New York, Connecticut, E Nebraska, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, SE South Dakota)
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Physical Description

Morphology

Eastern hog-nosed snakes are moderately sized, thick-bodies snakes, with a total length ranging from 50 to 115 cm. They are marked, usually, with large darkish blotches on a background of gray, brown, tan, olive, or pinkish. The dark blotches alternate in rows along the length of their body, making them look somewhat like rattlesnakes. Some individuals lack this blotching or are overall black in color. Their most characteristic feature is their wide head, with a flattened, upturned snout. There is often a dark band extending behind their eyes and two, more distinct, large blotches directly behind the head. Belly color is tan, gray, cream, or pinkish. Males are slightly smaller than females, with relatively longer tails. Young eastern hog-nosed snakes are more distinctly marked than adults, with clear blotching even in animals that grow to have no blotches as adults. They hatch at a length of 12.5 to 25.4 cm. Eastern hog-nosed snakes are most often confused with rattlesnake species, but they are completely harmless. They can be distinguished from rattlesnakes because they lack rattles on the tail and do not have facial pits, as do all rattlesnakes.

Range length: 50.0 to 115.0 cm.

Other Physical Features: heterothermic

Sexual Dimorphism: female larger

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Physical Description

Eastern hog-nosed snakes are moderately sized, thick-bodies snakes, with a total length ranging from 50 to 115 cm. They are marked, usually, with large darkish blotches on a background of gray, brown, tan, olive, or pinkish. The dark blotches alternate in rows along the length of their body, making them look somewhat like rattlesnakes. Some individuals lack this blotching or are overall black in color. Their most characteristic feature is their wide head, with a flattened, upturned snout. There is often a dark band extending behind their eyes and two, more distinct, large blotches directly behind the head. Belly color is tan, gray, cream, or pinkish. Males are slightly smaller than females, with relatively longer tails. Young eastern hog-nosed snakes are more distinctly marked than adults, with clear blotching even in animals that grow to have no blotches as adults. They hatch at a length of 12.5 to 25.4 cm. Eastern hog-nosed snakes are most often confused with rattlesnake species, but they are completely harmless. They can be distinguished from rattlesnakes because they lack rattles on the tail and do not have facial pits, as do all rattlesnakes.

Range length: 50.0 to 115.0 cm.

Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; heterothermic ; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: female larger

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Size

Length: 116 cm

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Type Information

Holotype for Heterodon platirhinos
Catalog Number: USNM 1158
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Locality: No Further Locality Data, Georgia, United States, North America
  • Holotype: Baird, S. F. & Girard, C. 1853. Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections. 2 (5): 57.
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Paratype for Heterodon platirhinos
Catalog Number: USNM 1153
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Locality: Charleston, South Carolina, United States, North America
  • Paratype: Baird, S. F. & Girard, C. 1853. Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections. 2 (5): 57.
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Paratype for Heterodon platirhinos
Catalog Number: USNM 1152
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Locality: Charleston, South Carolina, United States, North America
  • Paratype: Baird, S. F. & Girard, C. 1853. Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections. 2 (5): 57.
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Paratype for Heterodon platirhinos
Catalog Number: USNM 1199
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Locality: Charleston, South Carolina, United States, North America
  • Paratype: Baird, S. F. & Girard, C. 1853. Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections. 2 (5): 57.
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Holotype for Heterodon platirhinos
Catalog Number: USNM 32089
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Sex/Stage: Female; Juvenile
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1903
Locality: Lemon City, Dade, Florida, United States, North America
  • Holotype: Stejneger, L. 1903. Proc. Biol. Soc. Washington. 16: 123.
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Syntype for Heterodon platirhinos
Catalog Number: USNM 1271
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Locality: Indianola, Calhoun, Texas, United States, North America
  • Syntype: Baird, S. F. & Girard, C. 1853. Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections. 2 (5): 54.
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Paratype for Heterodon platirhinos
Catalog Number: USNM 30926
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Sex/Stage: Male;
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1901
Locality: Lemon City, Dade, Florida, United States, North America
  • Paratype: Stejneger, L. 1903. Proc. Biol. Soc. Washington. 16: 123.
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Paratype for Heterodon platirhinos
Catalog Number: USNM 30925
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Sex/Stage: Male;
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1901
Locality: Lemon City, Dade, Florida, United States, North America
  • Paratype: Stejneger, L. 1903. Proc. Biol. Soc. Washington. 16: 123.
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Look Alikes

The southern hognose snake (H. simus) has a more upturned snout, and the underside of its tail and belly are the same uniform, pale, color (Tennant, 2003).

The plains hognose snake (H. nasicus), have a sandy ground color more of less uniformly, patterned with brown dorsolateral spots and their ventral scales are heavily pigmented with black spots (Tennant, 2003).

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Habitats include openly wooded upland hills, forest edges, fields, woodland meadows, prairies, forest-grassland ecotones, sand plains, barrier islands, fire-managed pinelands, river valleys, riparian zones, and various other habitats with loose soils and amphibian prey. This snake crawls on the surface and burrows into soil. It overwinters in burrows (made by mammal or self-dug) or under rocks of talus slopes. Eggs are laid in nests a few inches below the ground surface (Platt 1969) or in rotting wood (DeGraaf and Rudis 1983).

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Eastern hog-nosed snakes prefer areas with dry, loose soils but can be found in a wide variety of habitats, from pine forests or deciduous woodlands to prairies, meadows, and pastures.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: chaparral ; forest ; scrub forest

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Comments: Habitats include openly wooded upland hills, forest edges, fields, woodland meadows, prairies, forest-grassland ecotones, sand plains, barrier islands, fire-managed pinelands, river valleys, riparian zones, and various other habitats with loose soils and amphibian prey. This snake crawls on the surface and burrows into soil. It overwinters in burrows (made by mammal or self-dug) or under rocks of talus slopes. Eggs are laid in nests a few inches below the ground surface (Platt 1969) or in rotting wood (DeGraaf and Rudis 1983).

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Eastern hog-nosed snakes prefer areas with dry, loose soils but can be found in a wide variety of habitats, from pine forests or deciduous woodlands to prairies, meadows, and pastures.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: chaparral ; forest ; scrub forest

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Sandy substrate terrestrial environments, mixed hardwood and upland pine forests and forest/grassland boundaries. H. platirhinos will often turn up in recently disturbed areas (Tennant, 2003).

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Migration

Non-Migrant: No. All populations of this species make significant seasonal migrations.

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

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Trophic Strategy

Eastern hog-nosed snakes are specialized for eating toads and frogs, though they also sometimes eat salamanders, small reptiles, reptile eggs, small mammals, such as mice, small songbirds, and insects. The majority of their diet, though, is made up of toads. Their digging abilities and wide mouths, flexible jaws, and curved teeth, make them good at finding and grabbing wide-bodied toads. Toads often inflate themselves with air to prevent being eaten by snakes and this snake's wide gape allows them to handle even puffed up toads. They also have a pair of enlarged teeth at the back of their mouth which some say act to puncture inflated toads, though this has never been shown. Eastern hog-nosed snakes also produce hormones that allow them to deal with the toxic skin secretions of toads, making them safe for these animals to eat. They also have specialized salivary glands which secrete a slightly toxic substance that has the effect of subduing amphibians, though it is harmless to humans and other animals.

Animal Foods: birds; mammals; amphibians; reptiles; insects

Primary Diet: carnivore (Eats terrestrial vertebrates)

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Comments: Eats mainly amphibians, especially toads (Platt 1969). Also various other kinds of small vertebrates, and rarely invertebrates.

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Food Habits

Eastern hog-nosed snakes are specialized for eating Anura, though they also sometimes eat Caudata, small Squamata, reptile eggs, small mammals, such as Sigmodontinae, small Passeriformes, and Insecta. The majority of their diet, though, is made up of toads. Their digging abilities and wide mouths, flexible jaws, and curved teeth, make them good at finding and grabbing wide-bodied toads. Toads often inflate themselves with air to prevent being eaten by snakes and this snake's wide gape allows them to handle even puffed up toads. They also have a pair of enlarged teeth at the back of their mouth which some say act to puncture inflated toads, though this has never been shown. Eastern hog-nosed snakes also produce hormones that allow them to deal with the toxic skin secretions of toads, making them safe for these animals to eat. They also have specialized salivary glands which secrete a slightly toxic substance that has the effect of subduing amphibians, though it is harmless to humans and other animals.

Animal Foods: birds; mammals; amphibians; reptiles; insects

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Diet

H. platirhinos is a toad specialist (Smith and White, 1955; Spaur and Smith, 1971; Tennant, 2007). H. platirhinos, like other toad-eating (bufophagous) snakes, has developed a resistance to the bufadienolide toxins found in the parotoid and skin glands of toads. Additionally, H. platirhinos has enlarged posterior teeth which help to puncture inflated toads (a defense mechanism commonly used by toads that make them too large to swallow) (Tennant, 2003).

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Associations

Eastern hog-nosed snakes have a significant influence on frog and toad populations.

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Eastern hog-nosed snakes are sometimes preyed on by large birds of prey and snake-eating snakes such as milk snakes and blue racers. Few other animals have been observed eating them, despite their conspicuous habits and slow nature. This may be due, in part, to this snake's unique defensive behaviors, which act to startle and discourage other animals from eating them. When startled, eastern hog-nosed snakes will raise their head and neck, breathe in deeply, and flatten their neck into a cobra-like hood. This makes their two, large, neck blotches look something like large eyes, which may scare away many predators. They then begin to lunge and hiss, though they do not try to bite. They also coil and uncoil their tail, spreading feces and a foul-smelling secretion over their bodies. If this doesn't deter an attacker (or curious human), these snakes will begin to writhe and convulse. They drag themselves through the dirt, further smearing themselves with the bad smelling musk and feces, and sometimes throw up their last meal. Eventually they slow their convulsions, turn over on their back with their mouth open and tongue hanging out, and stiffen in a posture that makes them look dead. At this point they look and smell thoroughly disgusting. If turned right side up at this point, they will give themselves away by promptly turning upside down again. Once an attacker has been discouraged, they will eventually flip over and go on their way.

Known Predators:

  • milk snakes
  • black racers
  • hawks

Anti-predator Adaptations: cryptic

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Ecosystem Roles

Eastern hog-nosed snakes have a significant influence on frog and toad populations.

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Predation

Eastern hog-nosed snakes are sometimes preyed on by large Falconiformes and snake-eating snakes such as Lampropeltis triangulum and Coluber constrictor. Few other animals have been observed eating them, despite their conspicuous habits and slow nature. This may be due, in part, to this snake's unique defensive behaviors, which act to startle and discourage other animals from eating them. When startled, eastern hog-nosed snakes will raise their head and neck, breathe in deeply, and flatten their neck into a cobra-like hood. This makes their two, large, neck blotches look something like large eyes, which may scare away many predators. They then begin to lunge and hiss, though they do not try to bite. They also coil and uncoil their tail, spreading feces and a foul-smelling secretion over their bodies. If this doesn't deter an attacker (or curious human), these snakes will begin to writhe and convulse. They drag themselves through the dirt, further smearing themselves with the bad smelling musk and feces, and sometimes throw up their last meal. Eventually they slow their convulsions, turn over on their back with their mouth open and tongue hanging out, and stiffen in a posture that makes them look dead. At this point they look and smell thoroughly disgusting. If turned right side up at this point, they will give themselves away by promptly turning upside down again. Once an attacker has been discouraged, they will eventually flip over and go on their way.

Known Predators:

  • Lampropeltis triangulum
  • Coluber constrictor
  • Accipitridae

Anti-predator Adaptations: cryptic

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Population Biology

Number of Occurrences

Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.

Estimated Number of Occurrences: > 300

Comments: This species is represented by hundreds of occurrences (subpopulations).

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Global Abundance

100,000 to >1,000,000 individuals

Comments: Adult population size is unknown but surely exceeds 100,000. This snake is fairly common in many parts of its range.

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General Ecology

Population density estimated at about 1-2/ha in pasture in Kansas, about half this density in ungrazed area; mean dis- tance between successive captures was 682 and 952 ft in two areas (Platt 1969).

In Arkansas, individuals had large, well-defined home ranges of 21-73 ha (average 50 ha, n = 8), which for individuals remained similar in size and location from year to year (Plummer and Mills 2000). Movements of translocated snakes tended to be more erratic and unidirectional, and translocated snakes exhibited reduced survival.

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Like other snakes, eastern hog-nosed snakes, rely primarily on their sense of smell to sense their environment and communicate with others, mostly during breeding. They also are sensitive to vibrations and have fair eyesight.

Communication Channels: visual ; tactile ; chemical

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; vibrations ; chemical

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Communication and Perception

Like other snakes, eastern hog-nosed snakes, rely primarily on their sense of smell to sense their environment and communicate with others, mostly during breeding. They also are sensitive to vibrations and have fair eyesight.

Communication Channels: visual ; tactile ; chemical

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; vibrations ; chemical

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Behaviour

Like many toad-eating (bufophagous) snakes, H. platirhinos uses death feigning as defense against predation. Before death feigning it may spread is nuchal ribs to flatten its neck, while hissing and mock striking (Tennant, 2003). H. platirhinos will only strike with its nose, it is not known to actually bite. If further harassed, H. platirhinos may hide its head, writhe, regurgitate and defecate, then turn on its back with mouth open and tongue hanging out (Tennant, 2003).

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Cyclicity

Comments: Active from late April to October or November in Kansas and Wisconsin (Vogt 1981, Collins 1982). May be active during warm weather during cold season (Minton 1972).

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Life Expectancy

Eastern hog-nosed snakes have been known to live for 11 years in captivity, but how long they live in the wild is unknown.

Range lifespan

Status: captivity:
11.0 (high) years.

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Lifespan/Longevity

Eastern hog-nosed snakes have been known to live for 11 years in captivity, but how long they live in the wild is unknown.

Range lifespan

Status: captivity:
11.0 (high) years.

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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 9.1 years Observations: Considering the longevity of similar species, maximum longevity in this species could be significantly underestimated.
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Reproduction

Eastern hog-nosed snakes mate in the spring and sometimes in the fall. In June or July they lay a clutch of 4 to 61 eggs in a shallow burrow. The eggs increase in size during incubation, which lasts for 50 to 65 days. Young hatch in late August or September. Young eastern hog-nosed snakes will expand their necks and hiss, and even play dead, before they have completely freed themselves from their eggshell, if startled. The young grow rapidly at first, but growth slows as they approach maturity at 2 to 3 years old.

Breeding interval: Eastern hog-nosed snakes breed once each year.

Breeding season: Mating occurs in April or May and egg laying in June or July.

Range number of offspring: 4.0 to 61.0.

Range gestation period: 65.0 (high) days.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 2.0 to 3.0 years.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 2.0 to 3.0 years.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; sexual ; fertilization ; oviparous

Females lay their eggs in a burrow, there is no further parental care.

Parental Investment: no parental involvement; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female)

  • Harding, J. 2000. Amphibians and Reptiles of the Great Lakes Region. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press.
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Lays clutch of 4-61 eggs, May-August (earlier in south than in north). Eggs hatch in 39-65 days. Usually sexually mature in 2nd year.

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Eastern hog-nosed snakes mate in the spring and sometimes in the fall. In June or July they lay a clutch of 4 to 61 eggs in a shallow burrow. The eggs increase in size during incubation, which lasts for 50 to 65 days. Young hatch in late August or September. Young eastern hog-nosed snakes will expand their necks and hiss, and even play dead, before they have completely freed themselves from their eggshell, if startled. The young grow rapidly at first, but growth slows as they approach maturity at 2 to 3 years old.

Breeding interval: Eastern hog-nosed snakes breed once each year.

Breeding season: Mating occurs in April or May and egg laying in June or July.

Range number of offspring: 4.0 to 61.0.

Range gestation period: 65.0 (high) days.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 2.0 to 3.0 years.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 2.0 to 3.0 years.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization ; oviparous

Females lay their eggs in a burrow, there is no further parental care.

Parental Investment: no parental involvement; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female)

  • Harding, J. 2000. Amphibians and Reptiles of the Great Lakes Region. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press.
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Physiology and Cell Biology

Physiology

Smith and White (1955) reported that H. platirhinos possesses markedly enlarged adrenal glands. Subsequently, Spaur and Smith (1971) showed that the degree of enlargement is sexually dimorphic, with males possessing significantly larger adrenal glands. Recent observations on other bufophagous species (Rhabdophis tigrinus, Waglerophis merremii) have revealed these same features, suggesting that bufophagy may be related to enlargement, and possibly sexual dimorphism of adrenal glands (Mohammadi et al. unpublished).

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Heterodon platirhinos

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2007

Assessor/s
Hammerson, G.A.

Reviewer/s
Cox, N., Chanson, J.S. & Stuart, S.N. (Global Reptile Assessment Coordinating Team)

Contributor/s

Justification
Listed as Least Concern in view of its wide distribution, presumed large population, and because it is unlikely to be declining fast enough to qualify for listing in a more threatened category.
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Eastern hog-nosed snakes are harmless but are often mistaken for venomous rattlesnake species. As a result, most encounters with humans probably end in death for this unique snake. These snakes are also often killed on roadways and by farm machinery or recreational vehicles. Although much of their preferred habitat remains throughout their range (though habitat destruction also affects them), their numbers have declined drastically. Their number may continue to decline as toad populations decline, which seems to be a general trend in eastern North America.

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

State of Michigan List: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

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National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N3 - Vulnerable

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Moderately vulnerable

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Eastern hog-nosed snakes are harmless but are often mistaken for venomous rattlesnake species. As a result, most encounters with humans probably end in death for this unique snake. These snakes are also often killed on roadways and by farm machinery or recreational vehicles. Although much of their preferred habitat remains throughout their range (though habitat destruction also affects them), their numbers have declined drastically. Their number may continue to decline as toad populations decline, which seems to be a general trend in eastern North America.

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

State of Michigan List: no special status

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Population

Population
This species is represented by hundreds of occurrences (subpopulations). The adult population size is unknown but surely exceeds 100,000. This snake is fairly common in many parts of its range. The extent of occurrence, area of occupancy, number of subpopulations, and population size are probably relatively stable or declining at a rate of less than 10% over 10 years or three generations.

Population Trend
Stable
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Global Short Term Trend: Relatively stable (=10% change)

Comments: Extent of occurrence, area of occupancy, number of subpopulations, and population size probably are relatively stable or declining at a rate of less than 10 percent over 10 years or three generations.

Global Long Term Trend: Increase of 10-25% to decline of 30%

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Threats

Major Threats
No major threats are known. Locally, some populations have declined as a result of conversion of habitat to intensive human uses.
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Degree of Threat: Medium

Comments: No major threats are known. Locally, some populations have declined as a result of conversion of habitat to intensive human uses.

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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Many occurrences are in protected areas.
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Global Protection: Very many (>40) occurrences appropriately protected and managed

Comments: Many occurrences are in protected areas.

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

There are no negative effects of eastern hog-nosed snakes on humans.

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Eastern hog-nosed snakes are important members of healthy ecosystems. They may contribute to limiting pest populations, such as insects and small mammals.

Positive Impacts: controls pest population

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Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no negative effects of eastern hog-nosed snakes on humans.

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Eastern hog-nosed snakes are important members of healthy ecosystems. They may contribute to limiting pest populations, such as insects and small mammals.

Positive Impacts: controls pest population

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Wikipedia

Heterodon platirhinos

Heterodon platirhinos, commonly known as the eastern hog-nosed snake,[2] spreading adder,[3] or deaf adder, is a harmless colubrid species endemic to North America.[4] No subspecies are currently recognized.[2]

Geographic range[edit]

Heterodon platirhinos is found from eastern-central Minnesota to extreme southern New Hampshire, south to southern Florida and west to eastern Texas and western Kansas.[5]

Description[edit]

North Carolina specimen
Florida specimen
Closeup of the head of H. platirhinos

The average adult measures 71 cm (28 inches) in total length (body + tail), with females being larger than males. The maximum recorded total length is 116 cm (45.5 inches).[6]

The most distinguishing feature is the upturned snout, used for digging in sandy soils.

The color pattern is extremely variable. It can be red, green, orange, brown, gray to black, or any combination thereof depending on locality. They can be blotched, checkered, or patternless. The belly tends to be a solid gray, yellow, or cream-colored. In this species the underside of the tail is lighter than the belly.[7]

Though these snakes are rear-fanged, they are often considered non-venomous, and not harmful to humans. Heterodon means "different tooth," which refers to the enlarged teeth on the rear of the upper jaw. These teeth inject a mild amphibian-specific venom into its prey, and are often erroneously thought to pop inflated toads like a balloon to enable swallowing. Humans that are allergic to the saliva have been known to produce local swelling, but no human deaths have been documented.

Common names[edit]

Eastern hog-nosed snake,[2] spreading adder, hog-nosed snake, adder, bastard rattlesnake, black adder, black blowing viper, black hog-nosed snake, black viper snake, blauser, blower, blowing adder, blowing snake, blow(ing) viper, blow snake, buckwheat-nose snake, calico snake, checkered adder, checquered adder, chunk head, common hog-nosed snake, common spreading adder, deaf adder, eastern hognose snake, flat-head, flat-head(ed) adder, hay-nose snake, hissing adder, hissing snake, hog-nosed adder, hog-nosed rattler, hog-nose snake, hog-nosed viper, hissing viper, (mountain) moccasin, North American adder, North American hog-nosed snake, pilot, poison viper, puff(ing) adder, red snake, rock adder, rossel bastard, sand adder, sand viper, spotted (spreading) adder, spread nelly, spread-head moccasin, spread-head snake, spread-head viper, flat-head adder (spreading) viper.[3]

Conservation status[edit]

This species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (v3.1, 2001).[8] Species are listed as such due to their wide distribution, presumed large population, or because it is unlikely to be declining fast enough to qualify for listing in a more threatened category. The population trend is stable. Year assessed: 2007.[9]

Defensive behavior[edit]

When threatened, the neck is flattened and the head is raised off the ground, not unlike a cobra. They also hiss and will strike, but they do not attempt to bite. The result can be likened to a high speed head-butt. If this threat display does not work to deter a would-be predator, a hognose snakes will often roll onto its back and play dead, going so far as to emit a foul musk from its cloaca and let its tongue hang out of its mouth.[7][10][11]

Feeding[edit]

The Eastern hognose snake feeds extensively on amphibians, and has a particular fondness for toads. This snake has resistance to the toxins toads secrete. This immunity is thought to come from enlarged adrenal glands which secrete large amounts of hormones to counteract the toads' powerful skin poisons. At the rear of each upper jaw, they have greatly enlarged teeth, which are neither hollow nor grooved, with which they puncture and deflate toads to be able to swallow them whole.[6][10][12] They will also consume other amphibians, like frogs and salamanders.

Captivity[edit]

Eastern hognose snakes are occasionally available in the exotic pet trade, but due to their specific dietary requirements, they are not as readily available as other species. Generally, they refuse feeder rodents unless they are scented with amphibians. In Canada, Eastern hognose snakes are considered to be a species-at-risk (COSEWIC designation: Threatened), and consequently capture or harassment of these animals, including their captive trade, is illegal.

These snakes live for approximately 12 years. They shed their skin periodically to grow and develop.

Reproduction[edit]

Eastern hognose snakes mate in April and May. The females, which lay 8 - 40 eggs (average about 25) in June or early July, do not take care of the eggs or young. The eggs, which measure about 33 mm x 23 mm (1¼ in. x ⅞ in.), hatch after about 60 days, from late July to September. The hatchlings are 16.5 – 21 cm (6½ - 8 in.) long.[11]

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Heterodon platirhinos at the Reptarium.cz Reptile Database. Accessed 14 September 2007.
  2. ^ a b c "Heterodon platirhinos". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 14 September 2007. 
  3. ^ a b Wright, A.H., and A.A. Wright. 1957. Handbook of Snakes of the United States and Canada. 2 volumes. Comstock Publishing Associates. Ithaca and London. (7th printing, 1985). 1105 pp. ISBN 0-8014-0463-0. (Heterodon platyrhinos, pp. 305-312, Figures 93-94, Map 29.)
  4. ^ McCoy, C.J., Jr., and A.V. Bianculli. 1966. The distribution and dispersal of Heterodon platyrhinos in Pennsylvania. Journal of the Ohio Herpetological Society 5 (4): 153-158.
  5. ^ Behler, J.L., and F.W. King. 1979. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians. Alfred A. Knopf. New York. 744 pp.
  6. ^ a b Smith, H.M., and E.D. Brodie, Jr. 1982. Reptiles of North America: A Guide to Field Identification. Golden Press. New York. 240 pp. ISBN 0-307-13666-3. (Genus Heterodon and species Heterodon platyrhinos, pp. 164-167.)
  7. ^ a b Conant, R. 1975. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America, Second Edition. Houghton Mifflin. Boston. 429 pp. (Genus Heterodon and species Heterodon platyrhinos, pp. 168-170 + Plate 25 + Map 130.)
  8. ^ Heterodon platirhinos at the IUCN Red List. Accessed 14 September 2007.
  9. ^ 2001 Categories & Criteria (version 3.1) at the IUCN Red List. Accessed 14 September 2007.
  10. ^ a b Goin, C.J.; O.B. Goin; G.R. Zug. 1978. Introduction to Herpetology, Third Edition. W.H. Freeman. San Francisco. xi + 378 pp. ISBN 0-7167-0020-4. (Heterodon, pp. 167, 328-329.)
  11. ^ a b Schmidt, K.P., and D.D. Davis. 1941. Field Book of Snakes of the United States and Canada. G.P. Putnam's Sons. New York. 365 pp. (Heterodon contortrix, pp. 115-118, Figures 25-26 + Plate 11.)
  12. ^ Boulenger, G.A. 1894. Catalogue of the Snakes in the British Museum (Natural History). Volume II., Containing the Conclusion of the Colubridæ Aglyphæ. Trustees of the British Museum (Natural History). London. xi + 382 pp. + Plates I.- XX. (Heterodon platyrhinus, pp. 154-156.)
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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Specific name formerly spelled "platyrhinos"; see Platt (1985) for justification for change.

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