Heterodon nasicus -- Western Hog-nosed Snake
All information found on this site falls under the INHS's Internet License Agreement.
Purple shade indicates vouchered specimens. Light blue (cyan)
shade indicates photographic records. Yellow shade indicates verified
sighting. Slanted hatch indicates pre-1980 records only
NOTE: Not all specimens upon which these maps are based have been verified.
Key Characters: Upturned scale at tip of the nose; belly and underside of tail mainly black; prefrontal scales separated by small scales; back scales keeled; anal plate divided.
Similar Species: Eastern hognose snake.
Subspecies: Dusty hognose snake, H. n. gloydi; plains hognose snake, H. n. nasicus.
Description: Medium-sized (up to 60 cm TL), stout snake with gray or tan back covered with 35-40 dark blotches. Belly mostly black. Numerous small, unpaired scales on top of the snout (in front of the eyes).
Habitat: Sand prairies, savannas, and adjacent woodlots in well-drained soil.
Natural History: Most often observed crossing sandy roads in brushy or weedy sand prairie remnants. Widens the neck, hisses, and sometimes strikes when disturbed, then rolls onto its back and feigns death. Mates in spring and lays eggs in July. The 8-10 young per clutch hatch in August or September at TL of 17-20 cm. Moves slowly as it searches during the day for toads, other amphibians, reptiles and their eggs, birds, and small mammals, some of which it digs out of sand with its snout. Saliva is toxic to prey, and is injected with enlarged posterior teeth. Main predators are raptors and medium-sized mammals.
Status: Threatened in Illinois. Its main threat is degradation and destruction of sand prairies. There is evidence that the Kankakee County population was introduced.