Friday, September 18, 2009

Eastern hognose snake

A pickup pulled up in the driveway earlier this evening. It was one of our neighbors, Loris Perkins, dropping by to tell me about a snake his dogs had found in his backyard. As I stood on the front porch and listened, he described how the snake looked and acted. I thought maybe a Texas rat snake? Another neighbor, John Hardin, had guessed a hognose. Hmmm, I'd never seen one of those. Then James appeared on the porch.

"Bring it on over here!" James exclaimed. "We'll take it!"

We would? I worried about what our "other" snakes might think. We've got at least one, maybe two, resident rat snakes in our Wildscape. Somewhere.

Loris agreed and off he drove. He returned a few minutes later with a huge white bucket. We peered inside.....What a pretty thing!

Loris rattled the side of the bucket, and the snake immediately puffed up its head.Wow! I ran for my camera and a field guide. Thumbing through the snake section, I found that John was right. Our slithery friend is an eastern hognose snake (Heterodon platirhinos).

As Loris described, eastern hognose snakes can flatten their heads, inflate their bodies with air and hiss menacingly. Which is why they're sometimes called "hissing adders" and "puff adders." The only thing this guy didn't do for us was roll over, open its mouth, convulse and then play dead, which hognoses can also do quite well. Loris said he saw this one perform the trick earlier.

Are hognose snakes venomous? No! One way to tell is check out a snake's eyes. See how this hognose has round pupils? The pupils of rattlesnakes, cottonmouths and other venomous snakes are slitted.

As for this hognose, James released it in our Meadow....I'm OK with that. But then I'm not, too. Because eastern hognose snakes eat TOADS AND FROGS! It'd better not find the chubby Gulf Coast toads that enjoy soaking in our stone bird baths on the ground.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful hognose snake! I stumbled on your blog through a blogger on Blotanical who had you on their list, and enjoyed browsing your wildscape. I live on a reclaimed former industrial property in the Rockies, with a native bunchgrass/wildflower yard and a huge kitchen garden. My best snake is the western terrestrial garter snake that lives in a knothole of the raised beds under the broccoli, but we did have a black bear wander through the other day.... Enjoy your wildscape, and thanks for making a home for other species.

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