A ~ C ~ S~N~A~K~E~S

Snake Breeders Based in Leicestershire, England, UK      

WESTERN HOGNOSE CARE GUIDE

Heterodon nasicus

Introduction

Western Hognose Snakes are a mildly venomous, small colubrid species with an upturned snout which is used for digging.  A species which is particularly active during the day (diurnal) and very energetic which makes them an extremely interesting and amusing captive to observe.   Western Hognose have heavily keeled (ridged) scales giving them a generally rough feel.

Some of the many common names are plains hognose, blowing adder, blowing viper, common hognose.  

Experience Level Beginner to Intermediate - Whilst we do recommend Western Hognose snakes to beginners we would not normally recommend them as a first snake due to the "other observations" made below regarding their temperament and feeding habits.
Temperament

Energetic & inquisitive but easily tamed. Hognoses are full of character, extremely active and great fun!

Venom

Hognose snakes are mildly venomous and possess enlarged rear fangs which may or may not be slightly grooved and it is therefore, as far as we are aware, unclear as to whether or not these fangs are capable of delivering their venom. It is more likely that any envenoming is done by delivering the contents of its Duvernoy's gland through a simple chewing action as is the case in other species who do not possess enlarged fangs. The enlarged fangs of the hognose were once believed to be used to deflate toads but as the natural diet of westerns is documented as only around 50% amphibian and other hognose species eat only small quantities of amphibians, this seems unlikely.

In general, they are all about bluff and normally have no desire to bite. Being mostly ambush hunters, bites are usually an accidental or inaccurate feeding response therefore use of tongs for feeding is recommended.

All of this being said, they are not considered particularly dangerous to humans with reactions to bites ranging from no reaction or only a slight tingling sensation to severe swelling and numbness.

Captive Variants Wild Type, Albino, Anaconda & Superconda, Axanthic, Caramel, Hypo, Lavender, Mocha, Pink Pastel, Spider, T+ Albino, Toffee Belly, Ghost
Other Known VariantsLeucistic
Expected Adult Length Males 45 to 60cm, Females 60 to 100cm
Recommended Housing

Vivarium or plastic tubs

We have used both vivariums and tubs for housing Western Hognose with equal success. 

Other requirements:

- Water bowl.  Most of our Western Hognose snakes like to bathe therefore we offer a large enough water bowl to enable this, some will use it rarely whilst others frequently.

- A minimum of 2 hides (1 in the cool end and 1 in the warm end), one of which can be moist.

- Deep substrate for burrowing

Good ventilation is essential.

Temperature Range

24C (75F) to 32C (90F).

All of our hognoses do very well at these temperatures however many keepers suggests a hotter warm end and we would therefore suggest increasing the warm end to 34C (93F) should you experience feeding difficulties.

Recommended Heating

When using a deep substrate, vivs are a great deal easier to maintain the correct temperature with overhead heating than using a heat mat under the tub. 

Viv - Guarded Ceramic heater or heat mat

Tub - Heat mat, we mount ours on the wall to avoid the problem of the deep substrate blocking the heat.

Whichever method is used, the temperature should be controlled by a suitable thermostat and monitored using a digital thermometer.

Origin United States of America
Natural Environment

Western hognose snakes inhabit a wide range of mainly semi-arid environments including grasslands, rocky areas, prairies and sandy regions.

Recommended Substrate

Hognoses enjoy digging and we therefore recommend and use a deep (2 to 3") covering of aspen. If using a deep substrate care should be taken to ensure that the correct temperature is maintained particularly when heating with a heat mat or cable as the substrate will act as an insulator. The temperature underneath the substrate could quite easily be 5C (9F) higher than on the top of the substrate.

Natural Diet Amphibians, Lizards and their eggs, Rodents
Primary Captive Diet

Rodents

Other Observations

Western Hognoses can be very intimidating when approached, as they may hiss, rear up, strike in your general direction with a closed mouth or even flatten out like a cobra but it is all a bluff and if you ignore it, they will more often than not cease this activity. In the wild they also feign death by lying still upside down or even bleeding from their mouth but this activity is not normally observed in captivity.

Hognoses are well known for going off their food in winter and early spring and it is easy to assume that it is due to the drop in temperature, however, if you are maintaining the temperature in the warm and cool end then this cannot be the case. In our experience they go off their food due to the drop in photoperiod, therefore if you are not intending on brumating (cooling) your hognose, we recommend increasing the amount of daylight hours to around 14-16 hours for most of the year.  Some specimens however, will stop feeding whatever you do and in these cases it may be best to consider brumating.

This care guide has been written by us at AC Snakes for your information and guidance.
 
It will be updated and expanded as regularly as we are able, however it should not be used as your only source of care information.
 
Prior to purchasing any animal it is strongly recommended that you research extensively to ensure that you can provide the correct care for your pet.
 
Last updated February 2013

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