Eastern Hog-nose Snake

Eastern Hog Nose Snake 2

Eastern Hog Nose Snake 2, photo by ShaneWyatt.

The Michigan DNR page on the Eastern Hog-nosed Snake (Heterodon platirhinos) says this is a:

A thick-bodied, slow-moving snake with a flattened, upturned “nose.” Color is variable some have dark spots and blotches on a yellow, orange, or brown background, but other specimens are solid black, brown, or olive with little or no visible pattern. Easily identified by defensive behavior. Adult length: 20 to 40 inches.

A snake of open, sandy woodlands – found in the wooded dunes of western Michigan. The upturned snout is used to burrow after toads, a favorite food. When threatened, hognose snakes puff up with air, flatten their necks and bodies, and hiss loudly. (This has led to local names like “puff adder” or “hissing viper.”) If this act is unsuccessful, they will writhe about, excrete a foul smelling musk, and then turn over with mouth agape and lie still, as though dead. Despite this intimidating behavior, Hog-nosed snakes are harmless to humans.

You can see a lot of pictures at the UM Animal Diversity Web and definitely check out Hog Wild on the Herping Michigan blog.

Shane writes that it was pretty intimidating to see the snake flair like a cobra and start hissing at him. Check it out bigger and see some more shots in his eastern hognose slideshow.

More Michigan snakes on Michigan in Pictures!

8 thoughts on “Eastern Hog-nose Snake

  1. Just about stepped on one today wile on a trail run in Southern Betsie county. Same thing last year in Northern Manistee county. Awesome looking snake…


    1. Oddly enough, I just decided to look this up. In 1957 at the age of 13, my brothers & a couple friends were going swimming near point Au Gres MI. I went in to the weeds to put on my trunks & heard this “hissing”. I parted the weeds, sure enough, in the perfect arch was a cobra. I ran to get my brothers but couldn’t find it. After 20 minutes of ridicule, we found it again. The laughter subsided quickly. We were scared to death. We took it in to Doc Harper, but he couldn’t identify it either. All these years, I have always wondered what it was.


  2. Well, I did step on one right in my front yard in Lake County! Flattened his head and hissed at me with mouth open! Didn’t bite me thank goodness. Then slowly slithered under our porch. Kept hanging around all afternoon. Seemed to like our patio bricks. Rubbed his belly all over it. Thought he might to shedding?


  3. What’s interesting about these snakes, if you handle them a bit, they eventually will play dead!!! They’ll flip over on their backs, mouth hanging open, tongue hanging out. If you place them on the ground right side up while they’re in this mode, they’ll flip back over on their bellies!! Of course I know not too many people are keen on picking up a snake, but I don’t have the fear, try to do what I can to promote them on my property… rock piles, log piles etc.


  4. I found a baby snake in Newaygo county about a month ago.it was 6inch at the time, my cat was trying to eat it. I saved its live. I believe its a puff-adder, when I first got it. it flattened out its head but now it never does and I hold it every day and feed it little frogs and trying to get it to eat piglets. Its about 8inches now and shedding for the first time. Is my snake going to get to big and will I not be able to hold it any more? Do they bit when they get bigger?


    1. Hi Laura, they can bite. Don’t know if they can eat piglets though! Probably would be a good idea to release it in the spring.

      Speaking of baby snakes, check out >a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/mfobrien/15453346505/”>this photo of a baby hognose that frequent Michigan in Pictures contributor Mark O’Brien took.


  5. Just had one of these snakes chasing a toad in my back yard in Lake City, Mich. I used a rake to hold it for a minute for a picture. It hissed at me, then flipped over. Exactly matched your description. Wow. Glad to find out it’s not poisonous!

    Liked by 1 person

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