Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Sensational Serpent

     The most fascinating snake in my opinion is the Eastern Hog-nosed Snake.  Besides being a rather beautiful animal, this snake has a very interesting behavior--it plays dead. (watch the video)  This specimen was saved from a probable death on a county road in the Red Hills.  With traffic coming (an actually rare thing on this particular road), I was able to snap a few pictures before picking it up.  I kept it briefly in order to demonstrate some of its amazing behaviors.  When approached (see first picture), it will spread its neck.  This action often evokes an exclamation of some folks that they've seen a "puff adder."  Of course, it is not an adder.  This snake is simply trying to make itself look larger and has the menacing looking "spots" on the neck to make a potential predator think that is a dangerous and larger animal.  It isn't.  Once all the hissing and displaying fails, the snake may turn on its back and play dead.  It will often defecate and hang its tongue out to try to sell the "dead snake" farce.  There are two species of hog-nosed snakes in the state.  The Plains (Western) Hog-nosed Snake is lighter in color.  They both occur over much of the state and are both on the state's Species of Conservation Need list.  Hog-nosed snakes eat toads primarily.  Interestingly, they do have rear fangs that carry a mild venom which helps immobilize their prey.  You'd have to stuff your finger down their mouth to get fanged though, and it wouldn't do much to you.  This serpent gets my vote for coolest one around!

At first approach, a hog-nosed snake will flare its neck to try to scare you away.

If doing its cobra imitation doesn't work, this snake will roll over and play dead.  It hangs its tongue out and often defecates and may regurgitate food to get potential predators to simply go away.  As soon as they depart, the snake will turn over and crawl away.

vid bv Lee Ann Brunson

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