Hognose is a name referring to various similar snake species, whose most notable distinct feature is upturned snouts. These snakes mostly occur in North and South America, as well as Madagascar. A hognose snake has round eyes and is generally small in size. Like garter snakes, hognose snakes also comprise popular pets, and you will find them in most homes where the law allows.

Typically, hognose snakes are timid, and they're most likely to hide when they see a predator; they rarely turn aggressive. They primarily eat amphibians, with toads being their favorite dish. Females lay eggs rather than giving birth to a live young. And, all hognose snakes have a blotchy body . The best thing bout them? Although venomous, their venom is not toxic to human being.

How many hognose species are there

There are three species. These include the Western hognose, which is actually the most commonly kept species. This species is further divided into various different subspecies, which include the Mexican, plains, and dusty hognose snakes. The second species is the Eastern hognose, whose habitat is mostly farmlands, coastlines, and sandy areas. Then we have the Southern species, which can be distinguished by its gray, tan, or reddish color, and dark brown blotches on its body.

Are you planning to have a hognose as a pet

That's a good idea, but before you dive into the fun, my advice is that you learn about the snake first. Thankfully, you won't have to look elsewhere. This guide has been carefully created to meet all your needs, as far as understanding hognose snakes is concerned, including how to house and feed them. The guide also anchors some vital information on how to handle your hognose pet. Now, forget about all myths and superstitions you have been hearing about these reptiles, here are the facts.

Hognose Snake Bite

Does a hognose snake bite? This is a question you will probably ask yourself beforehand when deciding to keep a hognose snake. Yes, a hognose bites, although that happens so rarely. In most cases, if not all cases, the snake bites to ward off danger. But even before that, the snake will try to escape from its enemy. If you're keeping one in your home, you may also be bitten if the snake mistakes your hand or leg for food. If a hognose snake bites you, it's advisable not to try to pull it off your leg or hand, as this may cause injury to the snake. Instead, splash the snake's face with some cold water and it will disengage itself.

Will you need to visit a doctor? There is no need at all. I find it a little bit crazy sometimes when I see people provoking a hognose snake to bite them for fun. If bitten, simply clean the wound with soap and water; that's all you have to do. As you wash the wound, check it for rings and remove them to prevent swelling. You can prevent bites by wearing protective gear, such as gloves, before you can handle your pet, and by using tweezers to offer food.

Caring for your Hognose Snake

The first thing you want to know is what your snake eats. Other aspects of this pet's care include housing and handling, among others.

Hognose Snake Diet

Every hognose snake keeper will be happy to find that these snakes have a very simple diet. Rodents, and especially mice, will always be a celebration to the snake. Favorites aside, hognose snakes also eat a wide range of other preys, which include toads (this is what a Western hognose eats primarily), insects, birds, reptile eggs, lizards, gecko tails, salamanders, quail eggs, and frogs. Giving your snake a variety of foods is actually a good idea; just ensure that your choice of food is parasite-free. Getting your snake used to a variety of foods will also come in handy where you cannot find its favorite dish.

Being a non-constrictor, a hognose snake may not have enough muscle and energy to successfully engage in fights with preys always. For purposes of convenience and safety, these reptiles should be fed on thawed or frozen rodents. However, a hognose in the wild has to hunt down and kill its prey. It has no any other option.

As a tip, choose hairless rodents for easy digestion. Adults can have one meal every one week, while babies can eat after every four to five days. Be careful not to cause regurgitation to your snake after it has eaten. This can be caused by too much handling after food. If you must handle it, then give the snake at least two days after feeding.

Vitamin and calcium supplements? A hognose snake should be able to find all the nutrients it needs for healthy living from their prey. However, if you're feeding your snake on captive-bred preys, there is a chance that the preys may be low on essential nutrients, and that's where supplements can come in. To cushion your snake against potential nutrient deficiency problems, some of the best nutrient supplements to offer hognose snakes include the following:

  • Jurassic Natural Calcium
  • Multivitamins such as Repashy Supervite
  • Miner-ALL Indoor (D3)
    Water: Here is a quick one about water. All hognose snakes need water, I mean everything that has life. Somewhere in your snake's enclosure, you will need a dish of water for a soak. The dish will also serve the purpose of raising the humidity in the cage. Clean the dish and refill it with clean water every day for the best results. Better still, you can use water with a disinfectant, such as F10.

    Some people believe that soft or distilled water delivers the best results for snakes. This is something you must not try. In fact, the opposite is true. Distilled or soft water is lacking in minerals, and this may result in osmotic imbalance. Using distilled water would therefore mean that your snake has to turn to its own electrolytes and minerals to regain its osmotic balance in the body. If that happens, your snake may become dehydrated and malnourished. It just doesn't matter how regular you're feeding it.

Enclosure Guidelines

Talking of a hognose snake enclosure, you should house your snake in a cage whose length is equal or slightly longer than the snake. The cage can be square or rectangular, with a width that is half the length of the snake. Wondering why the cage should be longer than the snake? Snakes love to stretch and if you put them in a small cage, they may not be able to full stretch their body. This can result in stress, which may have a far-reaching impact on your hognose snake. Additionally, a big snake enclosure affords your pet ample space for exercise. Like humans, snakes, and especially hognose snakes, love to exercise. And not just hognose snakes; all snakes should be housed in enclosures with the right size.

If you're keeping a baby hognose, you will need to upgrade the cage as the snake grows. Alternatively, you may want to purchase an adult-sized cage that will still comfortably accommodate your pet even after it grows into adulthood. This is one way of saving money. As they say, bigger is better.

Hognose snake enclosures come in a variety of types, which include PVC/plastic vivarium, glass vivarium, and wood vivarium. The best? For me, I prefer a glass enclosure since it allows you to watch your hognose pet from virtually all angles. Where you're viewing the snake from doesn't matter. However, the downside of this kind of enclosure is that it can be difficult to install accessories in the cage because making holes through a glass can be somewhat difficult. You either use the right tool and be gentle to the glass or the panel may break/crack, coercing you into purchasing another panel. And who would, in their right mind, not want to avoid unnecessary expenses?

A wooden vivarium works great for most snakes, with hognose snakes not being an exception. Most wooden cages come with a glass front, which facilitates monitoring of the snake. They are also not as delicate as glass. However, these enclosures won't allow you to observe your snake from all angles like the glass enclosures. Last but not least, there is the plastic or PVC enclosures, which offer the cheapest option in the market. Its also easily customizable than other types of enclosures, though its presence in the market seems rarer.

Whatever type of enclosure you'll choose for your hognose snake will depend on several different factors, which may include but not limited to availability, your budget, and portability.


Hognose snakes are so easy to handle, and this is one reason why they are so popular as pets. If you handle your pet properly, it will get used to you, and all you can expect is fun and companionship that will last at least for years to come. This also makes the snake appropriate for beginners. Nevertheless, you will need to give your pet a break of at least a fortnight from the day you bring it home, before handling. No matter how curious and excited you are, holding your horses will allow your snake some good time to adjust to the new environment.

If you see your snake eating well and regularly, that's a sign that it has settled in its new habitat, and you can now proceed to start handling your pet. The secret is to start small. For instance, initial handling session may be five minutes or less, and as time goes by, you can gradually increase that time. Bear in mind that good handling should not go beyond 60 minutes. And one to two handling sessions a week are sufficient to ensure the snake is in good shape. Exercise is awesome, but too much of it can be detrimental. This takes us back to the proverbial too much of something. Also, be gentle when handling your pet, and use your hand to guide the snake. Is the snake just about to shed skin or have you fed it recently (less than two days ago)? Leave your pet alone during this time.

I need to stress that you should clean your hands before you start handling your snake. The snake should be able to sense the smell of a human being, otherwise it might mistake you for a prey and bite you. Have a hand sanitizer? It works best.

Hognose Snakes are Good Pets

To this point, you should be having clues on why hognose snakes are good pets. The following are some of the pros of keeping a hognose snake as a pet:

  • Easy to handle
  • Calm temperament
  • They are small, and they hardly go beyond 2 feet long
  • They are not poisonous
  • Long lifespan (for instance, the Western species may live for more than two decades)
  • Simple and easy-to-find diet
  • They are active during the day

Any cons? Yes, they have got their fare share in this department. The cons of keeping a hognose snake include the following:

  • Their bites may cause swelling among sensitive humans
  • They like hiding
  • Can develop health issues, such as parasites and anorexia


Small and docile, hognose snakes can be super good as pets. Their care and husbandry are simple, and they can be handled easily. Can a hognose snake become the latest pet on your compound? why not? As this guide may have taught us, very few pet snakes would beat a hognose as a pet. If you treat your pet as required, the pet will return a hand.