Eastern Hog-nosed Snake (Heterodon platirhinos) - Ohio Herp Atlas

Eastern Hog-nosed Snake Heterodon platirhinos - Special Concern

A master of deceit, the completely harmless hog-nosed snake can put on an act that will frighten the bravest of people. When first alarmed, this bluffer coils, flattens its head and neck to form a cobra-like hood, inflates its body, hisses fiercely, and strikes violently. The strike – usually made with the mouth closed – almost always falls short of the target. This act is so convincing that it often leads to the snake being killed by people. These antics have earned the hog-nosed snake such names as puff adder, blow snake, and hissing viper. If this first phase of the act fails to frighten off the intruder, the hog-nosed snake resorts to “playing possum.” When struck or handled, the hog-nosed snake jerks convulsively, twists over on its back, and remains motionless. The open mouth, the tongue hanging out, and the apparent lack of breathing make a convincing picture – convincing, that is, until the snake is placed on its belly --whereupon it promptly rolls over on its back again. It just can’t be convinced that a dead snake shouldn’t be on its back! After danger passes, it will raise its head, look around, turn upright, and go on its way. The coloration of this essentially spotted snake is extremely variable, with color phases ranging from yellow and brown to black and gray. The most reliable field mark is the turned-up, hog-like snout which is used for digging out the toads that are its primary food. Dry, sandy areas are preferred, especially the Oak Openings Region of northwestern Ohio where this generally uncommon snake is most abundant. In southern Ohio, it occurs in most of the hill counties. LENGTH: 24”–36”

Text courtesy of the Ohio Division of Wildlife: https://wildlife.ohiodnr.gov/portals/wildlife/pdfs/publications/id%20guides/pub354_Reptiles-opt.pdf

Distribution Map
Distribution map of Eastern Hog-nosed Snake (Heterodon platirhinos)
Photographs
Eastern Hog-nosed Snake (Heterodon platirhinos)