Eastern Hog-nosed Snake / Couleuvre à Nez Plat
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.
Most individuals are yellow or light brown with large dark blotches. Some snakes are
completely black. The underside of the tail is noticably lighter in colour than the
belly. The body is thick and the neck is wide compared to other species. The Eastern
Hog-nosed is so-named because of its slightly upturned
scales are keeled. It can grow to
just over a meter in total length.
There are a number of other boldly blotched snakes in eastern Canada, notably the
Northern Water Snake,
Milksnake and the
Foxsnake. None of these snakes have the upturned
snout. The Western Hog-nosed is similar but is
only found on the prairies in Canada. It has dark blotches on the underside and the
snout is more sharply upturned.
The Eastern Hog-nosed Snake is limited to southern Ontario in Canada. In the US, it is
found as far south as Florida and Texas.
The Eastern Hog-nosed Snake is found in sandy habitats, particularly near the
shorelines of the Great Lakes. It can occur in open woodlands, particularly oak or
pine, but rarely far from water.
Mating generally occurs in the spring. Females lay an average of 20 eggs (up to 61)
in June or July. The eggs are laid in sandy soil, under rocks, or even in rotting logs.
They hatch in about two months and the young are approximately 20 cm in length.
Eastern Hog-nosed Snakes mature after their second winter.
The Eastern Hog-nosed Snake has a very mild venom which may help to immobilize the
toads and frogs it feeds upon. When disturbed it will raise its head, spread its neck
cobra, hiss and even strike, although generally with the mouth closed. If it is
disturbed again it may
by rolling onto its back with its mouth wide open and tongue hanging out. This
behaviour might deter some predators who only eat living prey. The snake is not
immobile at this point because if it is turned over onto its belly it will flip
over onto its back again. Hog-nosed Snakes generally hibernate alone underground
or in logs. The upturned snout is used for digging. Individuals can live up to 7
years in the wild.
The sandy, open habitat of the Hog-nosed Snakes around the Great Lakes is threatened by
development. Traffic mortality is another major threat to this species. In addition,
this snake is commonly killed by people because of its defensive behaviour. As a
result of these threats, the Eastern Hog-nosed Snake has been designated Threatened in
Canada by the