Latin Name: Heterodon Nasicus

Lifespan: 15 - 20 years

Hognose snakes are one of the most popular snakes kept as pets in the UK. This is largely down to their reluctance to bite and their attractive patterns. Hognoses are found all over America and are known for the hardened scale at the end of their nose that they use for burrowing. These snakes can be extremely vocal and will hiss loudly if stressed or even roll over and play dead if threatened.

Hognose snakes grow to be around 2 feet, with females usually being larger than males. When handling a hognose , you should never surprise them, always ensure the snake is awake and touch its side to let it know it's handling time and not feeding time. Always approach from the side and never above, as you could appear to be an airborne predator and the snake may bite to try and protect itself. While a bite from a hognose snake is hardly noticeable, they are technically venomous, but unless you're allergic you shouldn't have any reaction. With most snakes the fear of being bitten is always worse than actually being bitten. Try and hold the snake at its thickest part and support as much of its body as possible.

Food and Diet

In the wild hognoses would eat a variety of rats, mice, frogs and birds, but in captivity we feed them on thawed mice or rats depending on the size of your snake. The easiest way to do this is by the weight of your snake and finding the relevant sized rodent using the chart below.

Snake WeightFood SizeFrequency
4 - 15gSingle pinkie (2 - 3g)Every 4 - 5 days
16 - 23gDouble pinkies (3g x 2)Every 4 - 5 days
24 - 30gSmall fluff (5 - 7g)Every 5 - 6 days
31 - 50gLarge fluff (7 - 9g)Every 5 - 6 days
51 - 90gSmall mouse (9 - 12g)Every 5 - 6 days
91 - 170gMedium mouse (14 - 20g)Every 7 days
170g +Large mouse (24 - 30g)Every 6 - 8 days
400g + (female)Jumbo mouse (40 - 50g)Every 6 - 8 days
400 + (male)Jumbo mouse (40 - 50g)Every 7 - 14 days

Defrosting a mouse or rat is extremely easy to do, just take it out of the freezer and leave it to defrost naturally for a few hours. You'll know when it has defrosted because it's room temperature and floppy. If it has cold parts or is still a bit stiff it's best to leave it until it's fully defrosted. You can also place the frozen rodent into a ziplock/leak proof bag and place it into warm water. Be careful not to use water that is too hot as you run the risk of spoiling the rodent or part boiling it. Never use a microwave to speed up the process as you could make the rodent explode inside the appliance and no one wants that! You should never handle a snake within 24-36 hours of eating as you risk regurgitation.

Health and Wellbeing

As hognoses grow, they shed, just like many other reptiles. This happens every few weeks when they are small, and less frequently as they get older. As adults, hognoses will shed every few months. The period before they shed is called the Blue Phase. During this phase their colours will become darker and dull looking. Eventually their eyes will look clouded and blue, which is called being in Deep Blue Phase. After this they will return to looking normal. 3-4 days after this is when they will begin to shed. Snakes shed should come off in one piece, if it does not then the humidity may be too low. Hognoses will usually soak in their water bowls before shedding, you can help the process along by adding a moist hide filled with damp sphagnum moss so they can shed in there if they wish to. Always check up on shedding snakes to ensure that the shed has been successful and complete - if it is not complete you can help by either letting the snake slither through you hands in a damp towel or you can place it in a lidded container (with air holes) filled with moss. It may take a while but it will aid the softening of the skin and eventually it will come off.

Living Conditions

We use heat mats at one end of the hognose snake enclosures to provide the heat gradient that they require. You should always use a thermostat with a heat mat to reduce the risks of fire. You can also us a low wattage bulb at one end of the vivarium and control it via a dimming thermostat. This creates the necessary thermal gradient, allowing your animal to regulate its own body termperature by deciding for itself whether to bask under the heat source or move to the cooler end.

Heat bulbs should be enclosed in a bulb cage to prevent the snake from coming into contact with the bulb. Thermometers should be used at both ends of the vivariumto accurately monitor temperatures. If you have purchased a full set up from us then an adequately sized vivarium or faunarium is included along with everything you need to get your chosen snake set up and happy in their new home with you. Remember to only use reptile safe disinfectant which can be purchased in store.

Don't forget to purchase hides and other enrichment materials for your snake so they can hide and climb. Snakes love lots of places to hide and would reccomend a hide at the hot end, one at the cold end and then more little places to hide away thoughout the enclosure.

We have branches, platforms, plants and logs available in store to provide a fun area for your snake. All reptile products and decoration we have available are safe and provide not only an interesting environment for you and your snake, but encourage natural behaviours for maximum welfare. For ideas on what may further enrich your snake, please speak to a member of the team who will be able to advise.

Post By Kimberley Roderick