Caresheet

Heterodon nasicus nasicus

Introduction

This caresheet is meant for the western hognose snake (Heterodon nasicus nasicus). A hognose is an easily kept reptile. The relatively small size, curiosity and behavior are the most important factors. By picking them up and giving attention, the snake will get used to humans and will have less stress.

An adult hognose reaches an average of 50 – 80 cm. Females grow bigger than the males. In captivity, a hognose can live for around 12 to 16 years. The standard color is brown with white accents. In addition to the standard color, there are also various mutations that cause color variations.

First do research before you purchase a hognose. The snake must have a rapid tongue movement and be alert. Often you can tell by the movement of the tongue if something is wrong with the snake. Make sure the hognose has a good weight and is not too thick. If the hognose lays straight and the scales are far apart, the hognose does not have a healthy weight. Check the mouth for mouth rot and the body for unusual spots and parasites.

Western hognose snake

Origin

The western hognose snake comes from the grasslands in central North America. During the day the snake is active and when it is dark the snake goes to sleep. The hognose lives on the ground near fresh water.

The western hognose snake comes from the grasslands in central North America

Housing

There are several options for holding the hognose snake. Many people put the hognose in a rack system. The reason for this is that the snake often feels safer in a darker area, there are fewer external stimuli and the living area is smaller. The tubes for adult animals are 60 x 30 cm or 60 x 50 cm. Young animals are often kept in small plastic tubes. Terrariums work well to imitate the habitat, but this can cause problems. The hognose can get more stress because of space. If the snake lives and acts well in a terrarium, decorating the terrarium can help a lot to keep the snake entertained. Lignocel (sawdust) is often used as ground cover, where the hognose can dig and hide in. In addition, lignocel is easy to change and clean.

Many people put the hognose in a rack system

Temperature

The temperature must be 25 to 28 ° C for young animals and 24 to 31 ° C for adult animals. The hognose must have a warm and a cold side, so that it can choose where it wants to lie. The heating must be done with a heat mat. Make sure the temperature does not get too high, otherwise the snake may become overactive, burn and dry out.

Humidity

The housing must not become too humid, as soon as this happens the snake can get infections. Therefore, ensure that there is one moist area. We only have a (little) water bowl as a moist place, so that they can drink and sit in the water when necessary. The water must get out of the bowl as little as possible, this can lead to higher humidity, resulting in infections.

Behaviour

Hognose snakes are active snakes that move and dig a lot. These snakes are also known for the defensive behaviour, which they often display. They make a hissing sound and flatten their head, like a cobra snake. In addition, they often pretend to bite as a defence. They do not bite, but they touch. They only bite when they think there is something to eat. If a hognose snake bites a human, they do this because they mistake humans for food, for example, when there is a mouse smell on the human hand. When the defence tactics fail, the snake turns on its back to play dead. The snake lies on its back, opens its mouth and gives off a rotting smell. While this happens a lot in the wild, it is often not the case in captivity. In captivity, this behaviour usually only occurs with young animals and not with adults.

When keeping hognose snakes, it is recommended to keep them alone as they can be cannibalistic.

Venom

When bitten by a hognose snake, it should be considered that this species of snake is considered “venomous snakes.” The western hognose snake has venomous saliva, which is not inserted until the snake chews well. The venomous, enzyme-rich saliva ensures a faster digestion of the prey. For a human this venom is not much to worry about and can be compared to bee venom. If you are bitten, it is wise to lift the snake by its rostral scale as soon as possible, so that the snake comes loose, and the venom cannot be chewed in. The venom can cause an allergic reaction.

Food

Hognose snakes are carnivores, which means they are flesh-eating animals. In nature, the western hognose snake’s diet consists of frogs, toads, and lizards. In captivity this mainly consists of mice. In the Netherlands it is mandatory to give dead prey animals, as the feeding of live prey animals is not allowed based on the Animals Act.
Young animals get a small mouse every four to five days and as they get older get a larger mouse once a week.
In practice, men refuse food more often than women. This can be a week, but it can also take up to four weeks. With this it is important to keep a close eye on the weight of the hognose so that it does lose too much weight. Especially in the period from February to May, the males sometimes refuse food, because they are busy with mating or looking for a female.

Sexing

The male has a relatively longer tail than the female and the tail runs more off. It is often as if the female has hips.

Hognose snake tail - male
Male
Hognose snake tail - female
Female

Breeding

Brumation

The use of brumation is not necessary, but is recommended if you are going to breed with the snakes. Brumation ensures maturation of the germ cells, giving the snake a higher fertility. The start of the brumation is often from mid-November. Bring the temperature to 13 – 15 ° C for one or two weeks. The brumation lasts about eight weeks, during this period the snake gets no food. Two to three weeks before the snake goes into brumation, the snake gets no food. Ensure that all food is properly drained from the hognose. During the brumation, the body of the snake does not work optimally, which means that food cannot be properly digested and can rot in the body of the snake. The temperature can be raised slowly after about eight weeks. As soon as the temperature returns to normal, the snake must be fed very well.  After the snakes have eaten good for a few weeks you can put the male and female together.

Mating

After the brumation the couple is put together,  watch it until you see that the female shows mating behavior. Both animals will make sudden short movements, this indicates that both want to breed. If the female does not want to, the female can bite and in some cases the female even eats the male, this only happens if the male is much smaller than the female. A male can be put with several different females in a year.

Egg-laying and incubation

When mating is done, the eggs are fertilized. The sperm cells that have not fertilized the eggs can be kept in the female until she has fertile eggs again. About three to four weeks after fertilization the female goes into a so-called pre-lay shed, this is the shedding before laying the eggs. As soon as this happens, a container with moist sphagnum moss must be placed in the snake’s enclosure. This moist sphagnum moss makes sure that the snake sheds its skin well and more importantly that the eggs that are placed in this container absorb enough moisture. We assume an average of 8 to 10 eggs per laying, sometimes only a few eggs are laid and sometimes more than 25 eggs. There are several methods to keep the eggs at a good humidity.

One of the most used ways is to put the eggs in a mixture of vermiculite and water. We make this mixture with a ratio of 1: 1. Place the eggs about half in the mixture. Once you have laid the eggs down, always leave them in the same way, otherwise the animal in the eggs will die or get serious birth defects. Put a lid on the box. There must be a lot of holes in this lid, so that the moisture that evaporates does not return to the eggs. If it gets too moist, the eggs can rot and with too little humidity the eggs can fall in. The temperature of the incubator must be 23 to 30 ° C. The eggs hatch after about 55 to 65 days.

Hognose snake laying eggs
Hognose snake eggs in vermiculite

How to raise hognoses

The young snakes can be placed in a new tube as soon as they crawl around. The food that they get from the egg is about enough food for ten days, feeding earlier cannot do any hurt, but only do this after the first shed. Give the young animals small pinkie mice with the age one day. Sometimes the belly of the snake is not healed properly. Leave the snake in a damp place for a short while, such as with the moist vermiculite, so that the belly can heal properly.

Baby hognose snakes hatching

FAQ

How big do hognose snakes get?

An adult hognose reaches an average of 50 – 80 cm. Females grow bigger than the males.

What temperature do hognose snakes need?

The temperature must be 25 to 28 ° C for young hognose snakes and 24 to 31 ° C for adult animals. The hognose must have a warm and a cold side, so that it can choose where it wants to lie.

What do hognose snakes eat?

Hognose snakes are carnivores, which means they are flesh-eating animals. In nature, the western hognose snake’s diet consists of frogs, toads, and lizards. In captivity this mainly consists of mice. Young hognose snakes get a small mouse every four to five days and as they get older get a larger mouse once a week.

Are hognose snakes venomous?

When bitten by a hognose snake, it should be considered that this species of snake is considered “venomous snakes.” The western hognose snake has venomous saliva, which is not inserted until the snake chews well. The venomous, enzyme-rich saliva ensures a faster digestion of the prey. For a human this venom is not much to worry about and can be compared to bee venom. If you are bitten, it is wise to lift the snake by its nostril scale as soon as possible, so that the snake comes loose, and the venom cannot be chewed in. The venom can cause an allergic reaction.

What is the Latin name for western hognose snake?

The Latin name for hognose snake is Heterodon nasicus nasicus.

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