The western hognose snake (Heterodon nasicus) is of non-venomous colubrid snake species found in North America. It recorded as having 3 subspecies, Though there’s some disagreement.
Their range extends from southern Canada to northern Mexico throughout the central United States of America. In Canada, it’s located in southern Alberta, southern Saskatchewan, and southern Manitoba.
From the US it’s found mostly through the Great Plains areas, extending more or less disjunctly west to Colorado and Wyoming and west Minnesota, Missouri, Illinois, eastern Texas.
Western hognose snakes are located in many different habitats using a loose sandy or gravelly soil, like sandhills, prairies, river floodplains, open montane woodland, mesquite grassland, bajadas, thorn-scrub, semi-desert places, creosote bush desert, wide valleys and occasionally mountain pond bottoms.
The western hognose also adapted to dwell in human modified areas such as extensive semi and farming agricultural regions never intensively cultivated and at the margins of irrigation ditches. They’re located at elevations ranging from near sea level to around 8,000 ft (2400 m).
The Western hognose snake is really a are comparatively small but stout-bodied snake species with females being substantially larger than males. Mature specimens normally reach about 2 feet (60 cm) in length, having a maximum length of approximately 3 feet and weigh between 80 and 350 g.
The colour and pattern are all highly variable between subspecies with dark purple markings extending down the center of their tan, brown, pale brown or yellow back. With two extra rows of smaller, irregular and alternating dark blotches on either side. Their belly is pigmented with black, especially underneath the tail.
The western hognose has a bit of resemblance to some rattlesnake, especially a juvenile rattlesnake, and often is confused for one.So they are very often killed by men and women from fear, believing they are poisonous and dangerous snakes.
Western hognose playing dead
As with other hognose snake speciesthey get their common name from their”hog-like” appearance due to a modified and firmly upturned rostral scale present in their snout. This adaptation also makes them snakes burrowers.
When they are not busy these snakes spend the majority of their time in existing or high heeled burrows. Hognose snakes are primarily diurnal. They brumate every year from September to March, only becoming active at the beginning of the mating season.
Though they’re considered a non-venomous snake, though these snakes do possesses a potentially irritating spit that in the extremely rare instance of a sting might cause local itching and slight swelling.
Even though it’s generally a docile snake in case threatened or even hammering a threat it will spread its jaws and flatten its neck giving it a cool appearance in a cobra like style. If harassed it make and will hiss mock strikes.
When the strike continues, the western hognose places on a very stunning show, turning and twisting its body rolling over onto its back and playing dead. In this feign death display the mouth will be opened by them with their tongue hanging out. Their meal might also throw up or perhaps go so far as bleeding from the mouth.
Virtually nothing will convince them to move until the threat is gone, the snake’s body will be limp and lifeless when picked up. Following a few moments if no threat is perceived by it, the snake slithers away.
This hissing behaviour is the reason the western hognose snake can be known as the”puff adder” however these harmless, non-venomous snakes are not even remotely related to the deadly puff adder (Bitis arietans) located in Africa.
But these snakes may also be known by many other common names like Texas hognose snake, prairie hognose snake, bluffer, blow off snake, spoonbill snake, spreadhead snake, Texas rooter, along with artificial viper.
A number of the western hognose predators include fox, coyotes, hawks, crows, raccoons, bigger snakes along with both domestic dogs and cats. Their life expectancy in the wild will be around 14 decades.
Western hognose snake Subspecies
The subspecies sub-specific title, kennerlyi, has been given in honor of Caleb Burwell Rowan Kennerly (1829-1861) a American naturalist. Though the subspecies subspecific title, gloydi, is in honor of Howard K. Gloyd (1902-1978) an American herpetologist.
Some scientists buff H. n. kennerlyi to species level, and at the same point subsumed H. n. gloydi into H. nasicus considering just 2 species that are valid with no subspecies. But generally there are 3 known subspecies:
Western hognose snake (H. n. nasicus – Baird & Girard, 1852) – Found from southeastern Saskatchewan and southwestern Manitoba in Canada south to the US throughout western Oklahoma and Kansas to New Mexico and Texas panhandle. In addition, it is located several regions of Illinois and Minnesota.
Gloyd’s hognose snake (H. n. gloydi – Edgren, 1952) – Found in all of Texas excluding the panhandle, trans-pecos Texas as well as the intense southern Rio Grande Valley, eastern Oklahoma, southeastern Missouri and southeastern Kansas.
Kennerly’s hognose snake (H. n. kennerlyi – Kennicott, 1860) – Found in the USA in southeastern Arizona, southwestern New Mexico, trans-pecos Texas along with the extreme south of the Rio Grande Valley southward into Mexico. Back in Mexico is found along the Sierra Madre Occidental southeast into Tamaulipas and San Luis Potosí that was fundamental.
Western hognose snake Feeding
The Western hognose snake pops on any creature it may kill and overwhelm. Their diet comprises predominantly amphibians like frogs, toads, and reptiles such as small lizards and other small snake species.
But occasionally these snakes will eat rodents, small birds, and reptile or ground nesting birds eggs. Young snakes may feed on insects. Like many snakes that they serve an significant part in the surroundings, and are very powerful in control.
They purposely searches for prey, and can often use their characteristic upturned nose to dig holes in the ground when looking for burrowed toads from the sand. They are constrictor snakes. They must bite and chew over driving the enlarged back fangs to the prey for a way of presenting their spit and help rehydrate it.
Western hognose snake Reproduction
The western hognose breeding season occurs between June and August but they have been seen in copulating as early as the months of February and March. Females release a compound that’s picked up by men searching for females.
They’re a polygamous species and both females and males will breed with a number of companions throughout the breeding period. They’re also oviparous, which females lay eggs usually.
After copulation females will place from 4 to 39 thin-shelled and elongated lettuce burying them in the sand, then a couple inches beneath the surface. The eggs can hatch after an incubation period. No parental care is provided by Ladies for the hatchlings or the eggs.
At arrival, the western hognose hatchlings are fully developed and roughly 5 to 9 inches (13–23 cm) in total length.They achieve sexual maturity at around two decades old, although the dimension is more important and not as much the snake’s age.
Western hognose snake Conservation
The western hognose is currently categorized as Least Concern from the IUCN. Unlike their close relative the southern hognose snake (Heterodon platirhinos) that is classified as endangered in certain parts of its range and is therefore protected under regulations.
Even though the western hognose snake suffered some local declines it’s still widespread now. As with other species, they are affected by the transformation of the prairie habitat to agricultural soil.
They are guarded by many conservation programs and also have a large population size in excess of 100,000 specimens.