EASTERN HOGNOSE SNAKE

INTRODUCTION 

The eastern hognose snake (Heterodon platirhinos) is a thick bodied snake measuring 20 to 35 inches with a characteristic upturned snout and keeled dorsal scales. The dark phase tends to be uniform grayish-black. It has a dramatic defense display including hissing, mock-striking, and playing dead. Generally, they need sandy, gravelly soils typically associated with open fields, river valleys, pine forests, and upland hillsides. High-ranking threats include development of upland habitats, sand and gravel mining, and mortality from vehicles on roadways. It is listed as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need in all six states in BCR 14.

HABITAT NEEDS 

Eastern hognose snakes are usually associated with sandy soil and vegetation with limited canopy closure such as white pine, pitch pine, scrub oak, and a mixture of hardwoods. Feeding predominantly on toads and other amphibians, they need close proximity to wetlands or vernal pools where amphibians breed. Abandoned sand and gravel sites and areas with debris and rock cover are also important for hibernation and nesting.

HABITAT MANAGEMENT PRACTICES 

Maintain clusters of old fields, shrublands, and young forests with minimal development in between through rotational mowing and/or commercial timber harvesting. Pine barren restorations may also provide a benefit.

Retain abandoned sand and gravel sites in lieu of restoring them to forest.

Enhance the understory in forested stands in between patches of old fields, shrublands, and young forests through silvilculturally appropriate means depending on forest type and management goals.

Allow dead trees and woody material to decompose naturally. After timber harvests, leave stumps, blowovers, logs, dead standing snags, and other woody material to provide current and future nesting and foraging areas. When whole-tree chipping, fell and leave some low-quality trees.

SOURCES 

Goulet, C., J.A.. Litvaitis, and M.N.Marchand. 2015. Habitat Associations of the Eastern Hognose Snake at the Northern Edge of its Geographic Distribution: Should a Remnant Population Guide Restoration? Northeastern Naturalist. 22(3): 530‐540.

Marchand, M. 2015. Eastern Hognose Snake. Pages A79-A89 in the New Hampshire Wildlife Action Plan, NH Fish & Game Department, Concord, NH.

Wildlife type: 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION