Western Hog-nosed Snake / Couleuvre à Nez Retroussé
The Hog-nosed Snakes, and other roboust, rear-fanged snakes, which were included
within the Family Colubridae, have recently been placed in the Family Xenodontiidae.
The Western Hog-nosed has a tan, gray or yellowish gray body with large dark blotches
down the back and several rows of smaller spots down the sides. It has a sharply
upturned and pointed
The Western Hog-nosed Snakes is thick bodied with a broad neck. The scales are
keeled. Maximum length is just
under a metre.
Other prairie species with bold blotches are the
Bullsnake and the Prairie Rattlesnake.
Neither of these species has an upturned snout. The Prairie Rattlesnake has a rattle
at the tip of the tail and a distinctly triangular head. Bullsnakes have a decidely
checkered pattern to their blotches. The
Eastern Hog-nosed Snake is very similar although in Canada it is only found in
Ontario. The underside of the belly is more mottled than blotched and the snout is
not as sharply upturned.
Within Canada, the Western Hog-nosed Snake is found in southern Manitoba, Saskatchewan
and Alberta. It is distributed in the central plains south into Mexico.
This species is found in sandy or gravelly areas within the prairies or adjacent
scrubland or floodplains.
Mating and courtship behaviour have not been observed in the wild. Females lay 4-23
eggs each summer. Hatchlings are about 17 cm total length.
The Western Hog-nosed eats toads, frogs, salamanders, lizards and other snakes as
well as small rodents and some invertebrates. It has specialized teeth at the back
of the mouth which are used to puncture toads that have inflated themselves. The
upturned snout is used for digging in loose soil. When threatened an individual
may either spread its neck like a hood, hiss and strike or else
It may bite if handled and although it has a mild venom it is not toxic to humans. It
can live for up to eight years.
The Western Hog-nosed Snake may be
declining on the prairies but no detailed information is available.