Keeping Hognose Snakes as Pets: A Guide

Western Hognosed Snake

Multiple snake species with uniquely formed upturned snouts from three related genera: Heterodon, Leioheterodon, and Lystrophis are referred to as "hognose." They may be found throughout North and South America, as well as Madagascar. These creatures are typically tiny, with thick bodies and wide eyes.

They're commonly kept as pets in houses. Hognose snakes are shy creatures who would rather hide from predators in the wild than attack. Similarly, they rarely become violent in captivity. Once you get their housing and feeding schedule down, they are pretty straightforward to keep.

Species Overview

Common Name: Hognose snake

Scientific Name: Heterodon, Leioheterodon, Lystrophis

Adult Size: Less than 2 feet long on average; some can reach 4 feet

Life Expectancy: 8 to 10 years; up to 20 years in captivity

Hognose Snake Behavior and Temperament

Hognose snakes are diurnal (active throughout the day) and have a reputation for being amiable. Indeed, the eastern hognose (Heterodon) is well-known for its proclivity for acting dead in the presence of predators. When threatened, hognose snakes may flatten their necks, lift their heads, and attack, but very rarely bite. They can, however, grow up to be very calm around humans if they are handled consistently from a young age.

In herpetological circles, there is continuous controversy regarding whether hognose snakes should be categorized as poisonous. They do, in fact, emit venom in their saliva that is fatal to small prey animals but not to humans. Because hognose snakes seldom bite, a human would be unlikely to come into touch with the venom anyhow. Most snake specialists do not consider hognose species to be on the same level as deadly snakes like rattlesnakes and cobras because of these factors.

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Click Play to Learn More About the Small and Distinct Hognose Snake

Housing the Hognose Snake

Because hognose snakes don't become very big, a tank that allows them to extend their whole body length would sufficient. Depending on how large your snake gets, a 20-gallon tank is usually plenty. Because these snakes don't ascend, prioritize floor space above height. However, to keep your snake safe in its container, a sturdy cover is still suggested. Provide a large enough water dish for your snake to get into, as well as a hide box where it may hide.

Heat

Provide a temperature differential within the enclosure, with a warm side approximately 85 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit and a cold side around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. You may need to experiment with different wattages of heat lamps at different heights to obtain these temperatures. Remember to take your temperature at the level of your snake in the cage, not at the top of the tank, for an accurate result.

Light

Many snake owners choose to place full-spectrum UVB lamps in the snake's habitat on a 12-hour cycle to simulate the natural day-night cycle. This isn't necessary because these snakes obtain the majority of their vitamin D from their food. However, the illumination may aid in the production of vitamin D, guaranteeing that they do not become deficient.

Humidity

A humidity range of 40 to 70% is ideal for hognose snakes. The humidity level varies significantly across species, with snakes preferring slightly greater humidity when they're going to shed. The water dish in the cage will supply humidity, but if you need to boost the humidity level, you can softly spritz the habitat. A reptile hygrometer may be used to measure humidity.

Substrate

Hognose snakes have snouts that resemble little shovels. They dig into the earth using their noses in the wild. In captivity, a few inches of sand combined with reptile-friendly soil or another substance that allows the snake to dig and hide is perfect.

Food and Water

In captivity, hognose snakes, particularly Heterodon platirhinos, can be and may refuse food. Make sure the enclosure temperatures are proper, in addition to remaining consistent with what and when you feed them. Snakes require warmth to be active and digest their food efficiently. When hognose snakes are hungry, there's no mistake about it. They'll typically approach their feeder with their mouths open, eager to eat.

Hognoses will begin by consuming calcium-dusted gut-loaded crickets (crickets given healthy diets). Depending on how much the species develops, they'll progress to pinkies, fuzzies, and potentially adult as they age. Young hognose snakes should be fed many times each week, whereas fully grown snakes may usually get by with one per week. If you see your snake is going to shed, it's a good idea to cut back on feedings to avoid regurgitation.

Common Health and Behavior Problems

Despite their timid nature, hognose snakes are a hardy breed that doesn't often get sick. But there are a few diseases to watch out for. 

Hognose snakes, like other reptiles, are prone to respiratory infections that cause wheezing, drooling, and overall lethargy. Recurrent respiratory illnesses in snakes are thought to be caused by insufficient humidity.

Snakes may also have mouth rot, often known as infected stomatitis. Mouth rot may be identified by the presence of spit bubbles and inflammation around your snake's mouth. It's a painful ailment that, if left untreated, can lead to an infection and the loss of your snake's teeth.

Hognose snakes are also susceptible to fungal infections, which can cause shedding issues and skin discolouration. A veterinarian who specializes in reptiles should be consulted about all of these issues.

Choosing Your Hognose Snake

A captive-bred hognose snake from a reputable breeder or rescue group that can answer inquiries about the snake's health history is ideal. Make careful to inquire about the snake's diet, how often it eats, and when it last ate and defecated. Depending on the snake's species and age, expect to spend between $100 and $500.

Whether you want an adult snake or a hatchling is entirely up to you. If you've never handled a snake before, a hatchling is a good option. It's almost certain to have been captive-bred, and you'll be able to handle it from a young age.

When a snake expands to its full length, its ribs should not be apparent, and there should be no obvious kinks in its body. Before consenting to take it home, you should inspect its skin for mites and ticks.

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CITATION

"Eastern Hog-nosed Snake. University of Florida.", "Common Diseases of Pet Snakes. VCA Hospitals.", "Mycotic Diseases of Reptiles. Merck Veterinary Manual." ;

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