How Poisonous is a Hognose Snake?


Hognose snakes (Heterodon nasicus) are popular pets; however, some specimens have been known to bite when fed food with their hands alone. How do I find the right hognose snake for sale?

Although these snakes feature fangs at their front ends, hognose snakes are nonvenomous and usually only bite as a defensive measure; thus making bites from these serpents very rare.

Symptoms of a Hognose Snake Bite

Hognose snakes use their venom to hunt prey and defend themselves, but their fangs (located at the rear portion of their mouths) aren’t designed for human bites. So while Heterodon nasicus can strike quickly and may cause serious injuries when biting humans, most Hognose snakes that have bitten experience no symptoms or only mild irritation at their bite site.

Hognose snakes are diurnal, active foragers that tend to consume their prey in real time; Heterodon basics venom helps sedate game so they can kill and destroy it much easier than would otherwise be possible without its assistance.

Likewise, please do not post pictures of your snake bite to social media; doing so only perpetuates myths about reptiles and adds fuel for those advocating their extermination.


People bitten by hognose snakes typically do not seek medical assistance when bitten, perhaps because their injuries do not seem severe or because these reptiles have evolved the ability to play dead when threatened by collapsing, flinching backward, rolling onto their backs, and shutting their eyes if threatened.

Hognose snakes get their name from their upturned snout, which helps search for amphibians under sand or deflate toads when swallowed whole. Hognoses produce toxic saliva, which may cause mild symptoms in humans but are not considered evil since it does not enter their system through injection.

When handling a hognose snake, always wear light gloves and approach from its side. Avoid grasping its head as this could stress it out and result in biting; use either a snake hood or the eraser end of a pencil eraser to lift it from its substrate and set it free.


Hognose snakes (Heterodon platyrrhines) possess glands that produce mildly toxic saliva but lack the adaptations required to inject venom, making them a uniquely transitional species between venomous and non-venomous snakes, neither being utterly harmful to them.

While hognoses don’t use their fangs to kill prey, they use other tactics to defend themselves, such as hissing, flattening their necks, and feigning strikes against predators. Furthermore, they may release foul-smelling musk or feces to dissuade potential attackers; otherwise, they thrash and even play dead when threatened.

To lower the chance of bites from hognose snakes, always handle them using gloves and never pick them up by their head or mouth. Clean your hands both before and after handling your snake to reduce bacterial contamination; never hold your snake during its shedding process as they become more vulnerable during this time, nor run it more than once every week, as repeated handling could stress them out and increase their tendency for defensive bites.

Common Questions

Hognose snakes are popular pet species, yet few scientific reports of bites from H. nasicus species exist. At the same time, they produce toxic saliva and mild venom at the rear of their mouth, which they use for puncturing inflated toads (hence their name).

These snakes can be found across open prairies and meadows from Southern Canada down to Northern Mexico, ranging from open grasslands and meadows to open prairies and meadows. Their upturned snout makes them distinctive and helps them dig through loose soil to find amphibians hiding underneath it – giving these species their common name!

Hognose snakes differ from other snakes in that they’re rarely aggressive, only biting when threatened or cornered. When threatened or cornered, however, hognose snakes tend to bite in an attempt to strike back against any perceived threats or corners – often making hooded appearances with flattened neck skin and hissing or lunging to hit without actually biting, eventually flopping onto their backs with tongue sticking out as an attempt at playing dead!

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