Southern Hognose Snake

The Villages snake

The Southern Hognose Snake (Heterodon Simus) is named after its distinctively shaped head, but are also called a Blow Snake or Hissing Adder because of their behavior when threatened. These are fairly small snakes and are to be found across a lot of the south eastern states, but one aspect is that the species is described as threatened after analysis in 2007. They are a fairly docile snake and will prefer alternative deterrent methods rather than striking when they are threatened, and this calm nature makes them interesting pets for those who do like to keep snakes.

Appearance And Diet
The Southern Hognose Snake is an animal which has developed to suit its role very well, and the distinctive upturned snout has developed to allow it to dig in the earth when hunting. The light brown coloring with darker brown blotches is excellent camouflage when you consider the habitat. These snakes will usually grow to up to two feet in length, although generally are a little shorter than this, and they do have a stout body which is particularly easy to see in the female examples of this snake.

The Southern Hognose Snake has a diet which is largely made up of toads, including the spadefoot toad, southern toad and oak toads. They can also supplement the diet with many other preys such as mice, turtles, reptile eggs and lizards where necessary. They will usually bite into their prey with their large teeth, and although they aren’t venomous they do have a toxic saliva which is helpful in subduing their prey.

Behavior And Habitat
The Southern Hognose Snake has a number of defensive mechanisms, and when it is first confronted it is likely to spread its hood and to hiss and pretend to strike at the threat. If this doesn’t work, then it will often play dead, because there are very few predators who actually eat carrion, and as well as staying still it will even emit a foul musk to encourage the predator to look elsewhere. These snakes are natural burrowers, and will prefer areas that has soil or ground litter that will allow them to bury themselves for safety and to dig when looking for prey.

In terms of the natural range of the snake, it will sometimes be found in Florida, but can also appear in small populations from Mississippi across to North Carolina. They will usually be found in habitats which are close to the toads which make up such a large part of their diet, and this can include pine and oak woodlands, sandhills and dry river floodplains.

Reproduction And Growth Cycle
The mating season for the Southern Hognose Snake will usually take place from April leading up until the summer, and the males will stalk the female for days before they actually copulate. They will then lay a clutch of eggs which can vary significantly in number, but between six and fourteen eggs is typical of most clutches of eggs. These young snakes will then break out of their eggs using an egg tooth some two months later, but they will usually stay in the yolk to absorb it all before leaving the egg.

These hatchlings will be fully independent when they hatch, and will usually be between five and seven inches in length at this point. They will grow fairly quickly for the first two years, often doubling in size before they reach adulthood and start to grow much more slowly. It is difficult to peg down how long these snakes will live in the wild, but it will usually be a shorter lifespan than those that live in captivity, that can live for up to fifteen years.

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