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Eastern Hognose Snake

Eastern Hognose Snake
Heterodon platirhinos
(Order Squamata; Family Colubridae)


Heterodon platirhinos (Photo by Suzanne Collins from Collins & Collins, Eastern Hognose Snake)

Diagnosis: The Eastern Hognose snake has a thick body and slightly upturned, pointed snout. A typical adult is 20-33 inches (51-84 cm) long.  Coloration of adult snakes varies greatly and may be mostly yellow, tan, olive, brown, gray, orange, or reddish-brown with dark brown or black large, irregular shaped blotches on the back and smaller blotches on the sides. On the Eastern Hognose snake the belly may be yellow, light gray, or pinkish and may or may not be mottled gray or greenish and the underside of the tail is lighter than the rest of the belly. On the head there is a dark line extending from the upper jaw through the eye. The scales of this snake are keeled, and there are 23-25 dorsal scale rows at mid-body. The Eastern Hognose snake has round pupils. 


Natural History: The Eastern Hognose snake is an egg-laying species. Breeding takes place in both the spring and fall. Males may follow the female around for several days prior to courtship and copulation. These snakes lay between 4-61 whitish, thin shelled, leathery eggs in a moist sandy, shallow hole or under debris.  The eggs are 1.25 inches (3.2 cm) long. Eggs hatch in 39-65 days. Hatchlings of the Eastern Hognose snake are 6.5-9.5 inches (16-24 cm) long.

Distribution: This species is found throughout the eastern US from Florida and Texas north to Minnesota, east to southern New Hampshire.  In the eastern half of Kansas the Eastern Hognose snake has spottily distribution. However, it is well-documented along riparian zones south and west of the Arkansas River valley and in the Smoky Hills. (Distribution of Heterodon platirhinos  in Kansas from Collins & Collins, Eastern Hognose Snake)


Habitat: These snakes live in forested areas of eastern Kansas west to open prairies along the Colorado border. They prefer sandy stretches along valleys of major rivers.

Diet: Eastern Hognose snakes use their blunt noses to search for prey.   The genus name of this snake, Heterodon, means 'different tooth'.  This refers to the enlarged rear teeth on the upper jaw. These teeth inject a mild venom into prey and also serve to pop inflated toads like a balloon. They specializes in feeding on toads and are immune to the toxins toads secrete.  This species will sometimes eat other frogs, insects, and invertebrates.  Eastern Hognose snake juveniles will eat small frogs and toads, insects, lizards, and small snakes.

An adult in Gove County, Kansas (Image © Suzanne L. Collins, CNAH. From Eastern Hognose Snake)

Conservation Status: Kansas species in need of conservation.

YouTube: Eastern Hognose Snake Eating an American Toad:

YouTube: Hognose Snake Playing Dead:

Collins, J. T., & Collins, S. L. (2009). A Pocket Guide to Kansas Snakes.

Collins, J. T., & Collins, S. L. (n.d.). Eastern Hognose Snake. Retrieved July 22, 2011, from Snake's Burrow:

Florida Museum of Natural History Herpetology:

Kansas Herpetofaunal Atlas:

Image Credits:
Heterodon platirhinos.  Photo by Suzanne Collins from Collins & Collins, Eastern Hognose Snake.

Distribution of Heterodon platirhinos  in Kansas.  From Collins & Collins, Eastern Hognose Snake.

An adult in Gove County. Image © Suzanne L. Collins, CNAH. From Eastern Hognose Snake.

Submitted by: Heather Stewart, July 2011

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