Do hognose snakes hibernate?

Table of Contents

Snakes are considered exotic pets, and one of the most popular snake species that are kept by humans as pets are the hognose snakes.
Hibernation is a common behavior in snakes, and hognose snakes are not left out, especially those that live in the wilds. In this article, you will learn more about Hognose snakes and their hibernating behavior.

Do hognose snakes hibernate
do hognose snakes hibernate

More About Hognose snakes

Hognose snakes (Heterodon genus) are any of the three North American non-venomous snakes belonging to the Colubridae family. They are named with upturned noses and used for digging. These are harmless but often avoided puff additives or snakes in North America. When threatened, they squeeze their heads and necks, then make a loud hiss-rarely bite. If their bluffing fails, they will roll over, twist, and then pretend to die, with their mouths open and their tongues soft.

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Hognose snakes mainly live on toads and can physiologically neutralize the toad’s toxic skin secretions. They lay 15 to 27 eggs underground. The widely distributed species are the east (Heterodon platyrrhines) and the west (H. nasicus). Both are full-bodied and spotted; they are usually about 60 to 80 cm (24 to 31 inches) in length.

Hognose snake is a general name for several snakes with an upturned nose. They include four distantly related genera:

● Heterodon, mainly in the United States and northern Mexico

● Leioheterodon, a snake native to Madagascar

● Lystrophis, South American hognose snake.

● Hognose snake platirhinos

Eastern Hognose Snake

The eastern hognose snake (Heterodon platirhinos) is native in the Near North (North America). Their range extends along the east coast to central America. They have been found in approximately 30 states in the United States, and they have also been found in southern Ontario. Their east coast population ranges from southern New Hampshire to the southern tip of Florida. Their population in the central United States ranges from Minnesota in the north to southern Texas in the south. Eastern snakes and snakes have also been found in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, the westernmost point of Nebraska, and the southern end of South Dakota.

Physical Description

The eastern hognose snake is characterized by a thick body, a wide head, and a slightly upturned and pointed mouth. The adult’s length is 45-105 cm, and the female is larger than the male’s. These snakes have a pink color with dark brown to black spots alternately arranged along their body’s length as young snakes. As adults, these snakes’ color varies greatly, from light brown, light gray, red, tan, gray-green, light yellow, and even dark gray or black. Lighter snakes also usually exhibit the same alternating pattern of dark spots as the larvae and usually also have a darker color pattern on the top of the head. The spots observed are usually larger on the body’s back and smaller on the body’s sides. The body’s ventral side’s color ranges from white to light gray, but it is lighter than the backside. Besides, the underside of the tail usually has a lighter color than the ventral side. The eastern snake’s dorsal scales are usually arranged in 23 to 25 rows, and the anal plates are separated. Males of this species usually have 126 abdominal scales and 51 tail subscales, while females have 138 abdominal scales and 39 scale tail scales. Both sexes of this species usually have 37 to 60 tail scales.

Development Path

In most snakes, the appearance of ossification centers is similar. The brown water snake, also known as Nerodia taxi pilot, is more commonly studied than the Pig snake’s year, but the development of the two is almost the same. Concerning the brown water snake on the 25th day of egg development, the first cervical vertebra’s central ossification can be observed, while the remaining vertebrae ossified almost simultaneously. On day 27, the ossification centers of the ala bone and pterygoid bone of the skull can be observed. Two days later, the ossification centers of the occipital bone, dentition, vomer, maxilla, and horn bone are obvious.

On the 33rd day, the proton, nose, and forehead bone ossification centers can be seen, and on the 34th day, the maxilla and rib ossification centers can be seen. On the 35th day, the ossification center of the square and the frontal bone was obvious, and on the 36th day, the joint and coronal bone of the mandible was obvious. Also, on day 36, spinous process ossification and neural arch fusion can be observed. Before snakes mature prematurely, all snake bones cannot be completely ossified. In hognose snakes, the ossification center of the upper jaw, nose bridge, and vomer are slightly earlier (one or two days) than brown water snakes, while the ribs in hognose snakes are more developed than the brown water snake. In general, the incubation of hognose snakes is more fully solidified than the brown water snakes. During their explosive growth period, eastern hognose snakes can grow two centimeters per month. When a snake matures, it slows down its growth rate, but it never stops completely.


Eastern snakes are multi-shaded, which means that males and females have multiple partners during a mating period. The male follows the female scent trail to find a mate, just as these snakes follow their prey’s scent trail.

Eastern hognose snakes mate once a year, mainly in the spring and early summer months. If they have a second reproductive period between September and October, females will store male sperm until the following spring. Males tend to go further to find a mate, while females tend to stay near the best spawning area, which will hatch eggs to the greatest extent. These nests are usually between 23-26 degrees Celsius and are located in areas exposed to direct sunlight.

Once males find females, mating may last up to one to three days, while males alternate between their Hemiptera. The gestation period of female eastern female snakes is usually between 40 and 50 days. From early June to late July, females usually lay 10-30 eggs. The size of the clutch is positively related to the female’s nostril length (SVL). Eggs are usually placed under rocks and buried in sand at a depth of 10-15 cm. The eggs of the eastern snake weigh 3-12 grams and hatch in August and September. The hatched eggs are 10-20 cm long. In their growth period, these snakes can grow to two to three centimeters per month. Males normally take 18-24 months to reach maturity, which is defined by reaching an SVL of 40 cm. Women’s maturity is about 45 cm of SVL, and this growth usually takes about 21 months.

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Female eastern snakes usually incubate their eggs for 39-65 days (56 days on average). When incubation occurs, the female will bury her eggs and coil them around. The incubation period mainly depends on the ambient temperature and nest temperature. The higher the ambient or nest temperature, the shorter the incubation time. Some eastern female snakes may guard their eggs. Not all females will hatch or protect their eggs, but they will only protect them when they hatch.


Eastern hognose snakes are rarely kept in captivity. The life span of imprisoned persons is as long as seven years, but the average is five to six years. The life expectancy of these snakes in the wild is obscure.

Hibernating Behavior

The eastern hognose snake is mainly a diurnal animal and is more active at noon. They will swim to cross the habitat and find food or potential mates. Depending on the temperature (as low as 19 degrees Celsius), the eastern hognose snake is most active during the summer from early April to October or November. Eastern hobo snakes usually hibernate anywhere between early September and November. If the temperature drops to 19 degrees Celsius, they will begin to sleep. Their body temperature is usually maintained between 23-34 degrees Celsius during the activity, and the ambient temperature is between 19-27 degrees Celsius. Eastern ho snakes hibernate in self-made caves or abandoned mammal caves. Eastern hognose snakes tend to burrow into the sand at night. When digging a hole, their heads extend down into the soil, move left and right from the front of the body and exert force until they are completely digging into the soil, sometimes as deep as 25 cm or more during sleep and hibernation.

Family Range

The eastern hognose snake’s average range is about fifty hectares and is usually on a low slope to minimize travel energy. Males also have larger pedigrees because they travel farther to find mates, while females have smaller pedigrees to get closer to the ideal egg development area. The eastern hognose snake does not defend the territory within its own country.

Communication and Perception

Like other snakes, the eastern hognose snakes mainly rely on olfactory cues to perceive their environment. Hognose snakes in the east have proven extremely difficult to find prey by sight. To find prey, they wave their tongues to absorb chemicals from the external environment, pull the tongue back into the mouth of the Jacob Sobres organ located on the top of the nasal cavity, and then transfer to the olfactory organ of the vomeronasal system. Mouth. By continuously shaking their tongues, they can follow the scent trail to find prey. To find a mate, male eastern hognose snakes follow the pheromone trail left by female snakes, similar to how they follow their prey’s trail.

Eating Habits

Eastern hognose snakes have a different diet, mainly toads, especially the (Anaxyrus Terrestris). They are also known to eat frogs, various reptiles, small birds, small mammals, fish, sals (mainly tiger sals and tiger marbles, and even worms and insects). These snakes devour entire prey and often eat live frogs and toads. Toads are known to secrete toxins, which are usually fatal to those trying to eat them, but the digestive enzymes in eastern snakes can neutralize these toxins and are not harmful to snakes. Toads can also swell their bodies as a defense mechanism, but these snakes’ teeth have also become larger. It is said that they can deflate toads to make them easier to swallow. Besides, the Eastern Hognose snake’s upturned nose allows them to penetrate deep into the soil to eradicate burrowing toads. Eastern Hognose snakes also have enlarged posterior teeth, which contain weak venom to subdue their prey. The young snakes of the east mainly eat and other small insects.


Eastern hognose snakes are fed on by many animals, such as raccoons (Procyon lotor), Virginia opossums (Didelphis virginiana), foxes, eagles and other predatory birds, snakes such as kingsnakes (Lampropeltis getula) and cotton-billed snakes (Agkistrodon piscivorus), Tarantulas (tarantulas) Eurypelma California) and humans (Homo sapiens).

When threatened, Eastern Snakes will often sprint towards predators and try to bite in the direction of predators. They often bite when threatened, but rarely. When biting/bending over does not scare away predators, these snakes usually perform so-called “death pretense” on land and water. When pretending to be dead, the eastern snake will flatten its head and neck to increase its width. Then they will hiss loudly, inflate their bodies with air, rollback, open their mouths, let their tongues hang around, turn out the cloaca, and even twitch. If they are corrected during the pretense, they will usually reverse and continue defensive behavior. Newborn eastern hognose snakes have the same defense capabilities as adult snakes.

Ecosystem Role

The eastern hognose snake is used as a host by the coccidian parasite Caryospora Lampropeltis, excreted in these snakes’ feces. The snakes were also infected with nematode parasites named Rhabdias fuscovenosa and Lechriorchis primus that infect the lungs. They are also parasitized by nematodes (Kalicephalus, Cosmocercoides variabilis, Parvus) and tapeworms (kansense, oval microcystins, and elongated microcystins) that infect various parts of the digestive tract.

● Symbiotic/parasitic species

● Cercospora Lampropeltis

● Worm Russia’s fusco venosa

● Lechris Orchis primus insect

● Flat nematode Ochetosoma ellipticum insect

● Cosmocercoides variabilis insect

Economic Importance of Hognose Snakes to Humanity:


Eastern hognose snakes eat various small mammals, insects, and amphibians, and therefore play a role in restricting these populations, some of which usually exhibit pest-like characteristics. They have the strongest role in limiting the number of toads because toads are their main nutrition source.


According to reports, eastern hognose snakes are slightly poisonous to humans. These snakebites can cause swelling, bruising, and pain in the bite area.

Protection Status

In the IUCN Red List, the eastern hognose snake has been listed as the “least care” species and has no special status in any US federal government list. They may cause concern due to habitat destruction and a decline in the number of local toads in the future. The Eastern Hognose snake is sometimes mistaken for the pygmy rattlesnake (Sistrurus miliarius) and is often killed because of this mistaken identity.

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Western Hognose Snake

The Western Hognose snake is known to be one of the most unique and interesting snake species today. Their popularity is due to their attractive colors, relatively small size, soft nature, and unique behavior. Hognose Snakes exhibited harmless defense mechanisms, including hissing, flattening the head and body, and even killing them. They are interesting and easy to observe. Females could grow up to 3 feet, and males can grow up to 2 feet. If given proper care, Western Hognose may be kept in captivity for more than 15 years.


Baby Western Hognose snakes can be placed in a 5-gallon pen, but adults should be placed in a 20-gallon pen. Western Hognose is not a climber, so choose a longer fence instead of a taller fence. Always make sure that the case includes a secure top of the screen. We recommend placing Hognose snakes separately.


Western Hognose Snakes requires a thermal gradient that includes the warm side of the upper layer in the 80s, the cool side of the upper layer in the 1960s/​​the lower layer in the 70s, and a basking area around 90°F. The night temperature may be higher on the 70th floor. The best way to heat the Western Hognose Snake shell is to use a combination of heating pads and ceramic heat sinks. We recommend using a bottom heat storage pad and infrared ceramic heating element. The heating pad and ceramic radiator should be on one side, and there should be no heat source on the other side. We strongly recommend using a thermostat to control the ceramic transmitter and a thermometer to monitor the temperature.


Although Western Hognose Snakes do not require ultraviolet light, they are illuminated day and night, with 14-16 hours of light per day for the best results. Heat lamps can provide both heat and light and are ideal for these snakes. If using light bulbs for lighting, make sure to maintain proper heat; do not exceed 90°F, as this may be harmful to your snake’s health.

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As we have seen already, hognose snakes do hibernate. However, even though hibernation is normal for Western Hognose Snakes in the wild, it isn’t fundamental for pet Western Hognose Snakes. We recommend that you should warm your Western Hognose Snakes throughout the colder time of year, so they keep eating, drinking, and being active.

Hazel Buckley
Hazel Buckley

About Hazel Buckley
Hazel is an animal enthusiast and educator who grew up on a farm which her parents owned in Ingogo, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.  The farm was situated right under the Majuba Mountains - the site where the Anglo-Boer War was fought. 

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure that the information published on this website is accurate, the author and owners of this website take no responsibility  for any loss or damage suffered as a result of relience upon the information contained therein.  Furthermore the bulk of the information is derived from information in 2018 and use therefore is at your on risk. In addition you should consult professional advice if required.