Heterodon platirhinos

Heterodon platirhinos
Eastern Hognose Snake
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Subfamily: Xenodontinae
Genus: Heterodon
Species: H. platirhinos
Binomial name
Heterodon platirhinos
Latreille in Sonnini & Latreille, 1801
  • Heterodon platirhinos Latreille, 1801
  • Heterodon niger Holbrook, 1842
  • Heterodon platyrhinos Baird & Girard, 1853
  • Heterodon platyrhinus Duméril, Bibron & Duméril, 1854
  • Heterodon niger Duméril & Bibron, 1854
  • Coluber heterodon Daudin, 1803
  • Heterodon browni Stejneger, 1903
  • Heterodon contortrix Allen, 1932
  • Heterodon contortrix Burt, 1935
  • Heterodon contortrix Grant, 1937
  • Heterodon contortrix browni Carr, 1940
  • Heterodon platirhinos Conant & Collins, 1991
  • Heterodon platirhinos Crother, 2000
  • Heterodon platyrhinos Purser, 2003[1]
Common names: eastern hog-nosed snake,[2] spreading adder, hog-nosed snake,[3] more.

The Eastern Hognose Snake (Heterodon platirhinos) is a harmless colubrid species found in North America.[4] No subspecies are currently recognized.[2]


Geographic range

Heterodon platirhinos is found from eastern-central Minnesota to extreme southern New Hampshire, south to southern Florida and west to eastern Texas and western Kansas.[5]


H. platirhinos

Adults average 71 cm (28 inches) in length, with females being larger than males. The most distinguishing feature is the upturned snout, used for digging in sandy soils.

The color pattern is extremely variable. Its color can be red, green, orange, brown, grey to black, or any combination thereof depending on locality. They can be blotched, checkered, or patternless. The belly tends to be a solid grey, yellow or cream colored. In this species the underside of the tail is lighter than the belly.[6]

These snakes are considered rear-fanged, but any venom they may excrete is not considered dangerous to humans especially because they are not inclined to bite.

Common names

Eastern hog-nosed snake,[2] spreading adder, hog-nosed snake, adder, bastard rattlesnake, black adder, black blowing viper, black hog-nosed snake, black viper snake, blauser, blower, blowing adder, blowing snake, blow(ing) viper, blow snake, buckwheat-nose snake, calico snake, checkered adder, checquered adder, chunk head, common hog-nosed snake, common spreading adder, deaf adder, eastern hog-nosed snake, flat-head, flat-head(ed) adder, hay-nose snake, hissing adder, hissing snake, hog-nosed adder, hog-nosed rattler, hog-nose snake, hog-nosed viper, hissing viper, (mountain) moccasin, North American adder, North American hog-nosed snake, pilot, poison viper, puff(ing) adder, red snake, rock adder, rossel bastard, sand adder, sand viper, spotted (spreading) adder, spread nelly, spread-head moccasin, spread-head snake, spread-head viper, (spreading) viper.[3]

Conservation status

This species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (v3.1, 2001).[7] Species are listed as such due to their wide distribution, presumed large population, or because it is unlikely to be declining fast enough to qualify for listing in a more threatened category. The population trend is stable. Year assessed: 2007.[8]


When threatened, the neck is flattened and the head is raised off the ground, not unlike a cobra. They also hiss and will strike but they do not attempt to bite, the result can be likened to a high speed head-butt. If this threat display does not work to deter a would-be predator, hognose snakes will often roll onto their back and play dead, going so far as to emit a foul musk from their cloaca and let their tongue hang out of their mouth.


The Eastern Hognose Snake feeds extensively on amphibians, preferably toads. This snake has an immunity to the toxins toads secrete. This immunity comes from their having excessively enlarged adrenal glands which secrete large amounts of hormones to counteract the toads' powerful skin poisons. They have greatly enlarged teeth, not hollow nor grooved, at the rear of each upper jaw, with which they puncture and deflate toads to be able to swallow them whole.[9][10] They will also consume other amphibians, like frogs and salamanders.


Eastern Hognose Snakes are frequently available in the exotic pet trade, but due to their difficult dietary requirements they can be a challenge for some keepers. Evidence has shown that Eastern Hognose Snakes fed a diet which includes rodents tend to develop liver problems, and may have a reduced lifespan. In Canada, Eastern Hognose Snakes are considered to be a species-at-risk (COSEWIC designation: Threatened), and consequently capture or harassment of these animals, including their captive trade, is illegal.

These snakes live for approximately 12 years. They shed their skin periodically to grow and develop.


Eastern Hognose Snakes mate in April and May. The females, which lay 8 - 40 eggs (average about 25) in June or early July, do not take care of the eggs or young. The eggs, which measure about 33 mm x 23 mm (1¼ in. x ⅞ in.), hatch after about 60 days, from late July to September. The hatchlings are 16.5 – 21 cm (6½ - 8 in.) long.[11]



  1. ^ Heterodon platirhinos at the Reptarium.cz Reptile Database. Accessed 14 September 2007.
  2. ^ a b c "Heterodon platirhinos". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. http://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=563935. Retrieved 14 September 2007. 
  3. ^ a b Wright AH, Wright AA. 1957. Handbook of Snakes. 2 volumes. Comstock Publishing Associates. (7th printing, 1985). 1105 pp. ISBN 0-8014-0463-0.
  4. ^ McCoy,C.J.,Jr., and A.V. Bianculli. 1966. The distribution and dispersal of Heterodon platyrhinos in Pennsylvania. Journal of the Ohio Herpetological Society 5(4): 153-158
  5. ^ Behler, J.L. and F.W. King. 1979. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians. Alfred A. Knopf. New York.
  6. ^ Conant, Roger. 1975. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. Houghton Mifflin. Boston.
  7. ^ Heterodon platirhinos at the IUCN Red List. Accessed 14 September 2007.
  8. ^ 2001 Categories & Criteria (version 3.1) at the IUCN Red List. Accessed 14 September 2007.
  9. ^ Smith, H.M. and E.D. Brodie, Jr. 1982. A Guide to Field Identification Reptiles of North America. Golden Press. New York.
  10. ^ Boulenger, G.A. 1894. Catalogue of the Snakes in the British Museum (Natural History). London.
  11. ^ Schmidt, K.P. and D.D. Davis. 1941. G.P. Putnam's Sons. New York.

External links

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