07 February 2008

A Great Name for a Snake

The Eastern Hognose, Heterondon platirhinos, is one of the most interesting snakes. It is definitely one of my favorite herps and even the name is fun. Two and a half years ago I was very fortunate to visit my friend at her nature center while her Eastern Hognose eggs were hatching. It was one of those spectacular events seeing their little heads poking out of the shells. They were incubated in this plastic container in a storage room.

The eggs hatch in 6 to 8 weeks.

The Eastern Hognose is also known as the puff adder or spreading adder.

Time has passed and those little snakes are much larger. Most of them were released back into the wild but a few were kept for various nature centers in the area. While I was in Georgia this past weekend I checked in on the one at the Jekyll 4-H Center. It has great coloration; the head has a nice orange and yellow tint. And it was very active once I dug it out of the reptile bark.

When alarmed an Eastern Hognose will flatten out its head, inflate its body, and hiss. Sometimes it has been known to strike but rest assured, with a closed mouth. This is probably the least aggressive snake you will meet. If this act doesn't intimidate or discourage you they will then play dead. They flip over on their back, stick out there tongue, and feel limp if you pick them up. They may even disgorge a recent meal or rupture the capillaries in their mouth to add to the affect. And if you have the chance to hold one, it has the weirdest feeling body with all that extra skin. I guess a snake that eats mostly toads would be a little strange.

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