Caring for Hognose Snakes

Hognose snake
Peter Paplanus / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Hognose snakes are a popular type of colubrid snake with a distinctly shaped nose that gives them their name. These snakes are fairly small and can be difficult to feed in captivity but they are often found in homes as pets.

  • Name: Hognose snake
  • Size: The largest variety (eastern) reaches just over four feet in length but most species kept in captivity are less than two feet long
  • Lifespan: 8-10 years on average

    About Hognose Snakes

    These little, snouted snakes are known for their characteristic noses along with being somewhat difficult to feed, and for flipping onto their backs to "play dead." Their behavior mimics that of a small cobra when they feel threatened by flattening out their necks, raising their heads, and even occasionally striking, but rarely biting. They have rear fangs and can grow up to be fairly calm when handled regularly. These are definitely strange little snakes but they make interesting pets. They are low maintenance like most snakes, small, and are diurnal (active during the day).

    Hognose Snake Habitats and Housing

    Hognose snakes have unique snouts that act as little shovels. They use their noses to dig into the ground and also like to burrow in humus (natural compost) in the wild. In captivity we typically provide them with a few inches of calci-sand mixed with reptile safe soil or another material that allows the hognose to burrow and hide.

    Hognose snakes don't get very large so a tank that allows them to stretch out the entire length of their body without one end touching the other end of the snake will suffice. Although these snakes don't typically climb, a secure lid is still recommended to keep your snake safe in his tank or other enclosure.

    A water dish big enough for your snake to climb into along with a hidembox are all of the other accessories that are needed in your hognose enclosure.

    Hognose Snake Feeding

    Hognose snakes, especially Heterodon platirhinos, can be difficult to feed in captivity. Make sure to ask whomever you purchased your snake from what he had been eating, how often he usually eats, and when was the last time he ate and defecated. In addition to staying consistent with what and when you feed, make sure the cage temperatures are where they should be and consider adding in a UVB light if you are really concerned.

    Hognoses will start out eating gut loaded crickets dusted with calcium powder but will graduate to pinkies, fuzzies, and possibly adult mice, depending on how large your species grows to.

    Hognose Snake Lighting

    Heat lights are all that are really necessary for hognose snakes. Some owners opt to provide full spectrum, UVB lights on a 12 hour cycle but it is not completely necessary. A good temperature gradient should be provided with a basking area reaching 85-90 degrees Fahrenheit and a cool side not dropping below 70 degrees Fahrenheit. To achieve these temperatures you may need to experiment with different wattages of heat bulbs at varying heights.

    Remember to read the temperature at the level of your snake in the enclosure, not at the top of the tank where you snake will never reach.

    All in all, a hognose can make a great pet snake. Their care isn't difficult and with annual or as needed check ups with your exotics vet, you shouldn't run into many problems with their health.