The Eastern Hog-nosed Snake is named for its somewhat upturned nose, but to me its most remarkable feature is its defensive behavior. It has the ability to flatten out its head, making itself appear much wider and larger than it really is, until it looks almost like a little cobra.
If this change in shape, accompanied by hissing, aggressive posturing, and striking fails to deter whatever is disturbing it, the snake may take a completely opposite approach, roll over, and play dead.
Though non-venomous, the hog-nose has a multitude of common names - puff adder, hissing adder, blow viper, etc. that make it sound more dangerous than it is. It greatly prefers to mind its own business.
Toads are its favorite food, but it will take a variety of other live prey. Ranges over much of the eastern United States, except northern New York and New England, northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Like many snakes, it is becoming less common.
I may have contributed to that in my own way. My mother reports that one day when I was about five she was doing the laundry and found a hog-nose in my pants pocket. That did not make her happy.
Photos: Mike Habeck
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