Western Hognose Snakes
Oh the Drama! With all the hood flattening, body puffing, rattlesnake mimicking and death faking antics from a snake with a face as cute as a hognose, it’s almost hard to take them seriously. However, security, low stress, temperature and quality feeding is key to hognose health.
Western hognose are small heavy bodied snakes which encompass a very large range from northern Mexico to southwestern Canada. They do not require large enclosures and having a range so vast they are tolerant to variable temperatures; however, they will seek out heat whenever they can to support their metabolic needs and a source should always be provided. Adult males are between 14-24 inches and females under 3 feet in length, therefore 2 square feet of floor space for males and 4 for females is adequate provided they are given a temperature gradient, adequate ventilation and multiple hides.
Though the range of the hognose is vast the gradient of their enclosure should be less so, ranging from the high 70’s on the cooler end of their enclosure and up to 90 Fahrenheit in the basking area. A small overnight temperature drop of a few degrees with an accompanying 12 hour light cycle will serve as a source of positive stimulation for this diurnal species.
Basking Spot Temperature: 87°F -90°F
Warm Side Ambient Temperature: 80°F-87°F
Cool Side Ambient Temperature: 77°F-80°F
Optional Night-time Ambient Drop: 75°F-80°F
Hognose prefer an arid environment ~40 – 50 % relative humidity and keeping them on Aspen in a decently ventilated enclosure makes that easy to attain. However, access to fresh clean water should always be available. We use a large bowl filled halfway to avoid spillage onto aspen which moulds easily when wet.
Well established individuals feed with ease and enthusiasm. However, be sure to acquire one from a breeder who has taken the time to establish it on a diet of mice. In the wild they would include prey items difficult to provide in a captive environment such as the American toad. Breeders are often faced with the challenge of establishing babies onto rodents by various scenting methods, this can be a very time-consuming process requiring considerable patience. So be sure to pose the question of feeding with the breeder.
Like most living organisms the hognose produces enzymes in its saliva which aid in digestion and possess enlarge maxillary teeth useful in holding prey or puncturing inflated toads making them easier to swallow. This in turn has generated a decades long argument of whether or not the snake should be classified as “rear fanged and mildly venomous”. However, its bite has never proven to be harmful to humans. That being said, all animal bites should be cleaned and disinfected immediately and monitored for any sign of infection.