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Eastern Hog-nosed Snake

Eastern Hog-nosed Snake
Heterodon platirhinos

Image of eastern hog-nosed snakeDescription

A thick-bodied snake with an upturned "nose." Color is variable‚ÄĒsome have dark spots and blotches on a yellow, orange, or brown background, but others are solid black, brown, or olive with little or no visible pattern. Easily identified by defensive behavior (see below).

Adult Length:

20 to 40 inches.

Habitat and Habits

A harmless snake of open, sandy woodlands. The upturned snout is used to burrow after toads, a favorite food. When threatened, Hog-nosed Snakes puff up with air, flatten their necks and bodies, and hiss loudly. (Hence the local names "puff adder" or "hissing viper.") If this act is unsuccessful, they will writhe about, excrete a foul smelling musk, and then turn over and lie still, as though dead.


Female Eastern Hog-nosed Snakes lay from 4 to over 50 eggs in early summer, usually in an underground burrow. The baby snakes hatch out about 60 days later; hatchlings nearly always have a spotted pattern.

Range and Status

Recorded from many parts of the Lower Peninsula and the southern tip of the Upper Peninsula, but most common in the western and northern LP. Their numbers have declined over much of Michigan due to needless human persecution.


James Harding
MSU Museum
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824
(517) 353-7978