A Field Guide to the Prairie

Western Hognose Snake
Photo: Dr. Barney Oldfield
Western Hognose Snake
Heterodon nasicus
Length: 35-40 cm (14-16 in.)
Habitat/Range:They are found across central North America, from southern Manitoba, Canada, through the Great Plains and into northern Mexico. It is a prairie animal that prefers open, sandy, gravelly land.
Eating Habits: Western Hognose snakes eat toads, frogs, salamanders, lizards, small snakes, mice and shrews. It detects its prey by sight and smell and rapidly approaches it and grabs it.

This snake has a shovel shaped snout to help it dig in loose, sandy soil. Its background color is tan or gray. It has 35 to 40 dark brown spots that run along the back. Two rows of smaller spots are found on each side of its body. The ventral surface is black and is edged in cream or yellow. The underside of its tail is completely black.

When provoked, the western hognose spreads its neck, hisses and strikes with a closed mouth. If the intruder sticks around, this snake pretends that it's dead and it turns itself upside down and vomits up its most recent meal.

On the Prairie Field Guide Index

College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences
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