hognose snake

Eastern Hognose Snake

(Heterodon platirhinos)

NH Conservation Status: State Endangered, Wildlife Action Plan Species in Greatest Need of Conservation (Click here to download the Reptiles and Amphibians section of the NH Wildlife Action Plan. Hognose snake is on page 26.)

State Rank Status: Endangered.

Distribution: Southern NH along the Merrimack River, Concord to Massachusetts border.

Description: A thick-bodied snake measuring 20-35 inches. Has a characteristic upturned snout and keeled dorsal scales. Light and dark blotches vary in color from brown to red and orange. There is also a dark phase in which the body is almost uniform in and grayish-black color.

Commonly Confused Species: Garter snake; Timber rattlesnake

Habitat: Requires sandy, gravely soils such as open fields, river valleys, pine forests, and upland hillsides. Feeds predominately on toads; therefore needs breeding habitat (e.g., wetlands, vernal pools) for amphibians.

Life History: During summer lays eggs a few inches underground or under woody debris. Hibernates in mammal burrows, under woody debris, or under trash piles. Has a dramatic defense display including hissing, mock striking, and playing dead.

Conservation Threats: Loss of habitat from rapidly developing southern New Hampshire; mortality on roadways, loss of amphibian populations; people killing individual snakes because of fear (hognose snakes are not dangerous to humans or pets!!…unless you are a toad).

Distribution map: Click here for a map showing the towns where this species is reported to occur in NH

Know your NH Snakes! The hognose snake is a harmless native snake and should never be harassed or injured (PDF)

hognose snake
hognose snake
Dark hognose snake with no obvious pattern. Photo by Mike Marchand.
Hognose snakes put up a good bluff but are not dangerous. Hognose snakes often flatten and spread out their heads like a cobra. If this doesn’t work, they often flip over and play dead. Hognose snakes have an upturned nose that is helpful for digging in soil. Photo by Mike Marchand.
hognose snake
Photo by Mike Marchand.

hognose snake
hognose snake
Eastern hognose snake, New Hampshire. Photo by Mike Marchand.
Photo by Mike Marchand.
hognose snake
Eastern hognose snake, Alabama. Photo by Mike Marchand.


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