Blow snake, Bluffer, Faux viper, Plains hognose snake, Prairie hognose snake, Spoonbill snake, Spreadhead snake, Texas hognose snake, Texas rooter
Western hognose snakes are small nonvenomous reptiles native to North America. Their color and pattern is highly variable between subspecies, although most specimens appear much like rattlesnakes to the untrained eye. Western hognose snakes are usually grayish brown or light olive green in color with darker dorsal spots. Males are considerably smaller than females. These snakes get their common name, "hognose", from the modified rostral (nose) scale that is formed in an upturned manner, providing a very "hog-like" look. Additionally, this adaptation makes these snakes adept burrowers. Western hognose snakes are not nonvenomous but possess potentially irritating saliva that may cause slight swelling and itching. The extremely rare bite from this rear-fanged snake is not regarded as dangerous to humans.
Diurnal animals are active during the daytime, with a period of sleeping or other inactivity at night. The timing of activity by an animal depends ...
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Polygynandry is a mating system in which both males and females have multiple mating partners during a breeding season.
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Western hognose snakes occur from southern Canada throughout the United States to northern Mexico. They live in areas with sandy or gravelly soils, including prairies, river floodplains, wide valleys, scrub and grasslands, semi-deserts, and some semiagricultural areas.
Western hognose snakes are solitary and primarily diurnal creatures. They spend their day searching for food or resting burrowed in the soil or in burrows created by other small mammals. These snakes brumate each year underground during cold winter months. They are typically docile snakes (though known to be highly defensive in some individuals). If threatened (or perceiving a threat), they may flatten their neck (much like a cobra), hiss, and make 'mock' or 'bluff' strikes if harassed; these strikes are made with the snakes' mouth closed. Even when further harassed, Western hognose snakes virtually never bite as a self-defense mechanism, but will instead usually resort to playing dead. Although it is more common that they will flatten their head, some individuals may puff up, filling the throat with air. This is more common with adolescent males.
Western hognose snakes are carnivores. They feed predominately on amphibians, such as large and medium-sized tree frogs, as well as small or medium-sized toads and small lizards. These snakes may also prey on birds and small rodents.
Western hognose snakes have a polygynandrous (promiscuous) mating system in which both males and females have multiple partners. They mate in spring and females lay 4-23 elongate, thin-shelled eggs in June-August. The eggs take approximately 60 days to hatch and each hatchling is 13-23 cm (5-9 inches) in total length. Baby hognose snakes don't receive parental care and reach reproductive maturity after approximately two years of age.
Western hognose snakes don't face any major threats at present. However, in some areas of their range, these snakes suffer from habitat loss due to agro-industry.
According to IUCN, the Western hognose snake is locally common and widespread throughout its range but no overall population estimate is available. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are stable.
Western hognose snakes play an important role in their ecosystem as they control populations of toads they prey on. These snakes are one of the few species that are able to tolerate the toads' poison because their saliva helps break down the toxins from toads.