Valerie, don’t read this post… it’s about a hognose snake and there are pictures 😉
Situational Awareness Lesson
This is a negative lesson. Don’t do what I do. Luckily for me, it wasn’t as bad a situation as it could have been.
I stepped off the driveway to get closer to a deciduous magnolia sapling I wanted to photograph. It was growing on the uphill side, just a few feet away.
Then an acorn caught my eye as a sunbeam filtered through the treetops to land on it just so. So I changed my goal to take advantage of the fleeting sunbeam for what I hoped would make a good picture.
As I crouched to get closer to the acorn I spotted the snake.
You know the saying “If it had been a snake it would have bit you”?
Well, if this snake had been in a bad mood, it would have have had no trouble at all to bite me.
I thought at first it was a copperhead and backed away in as non-threatening a manner as I could.
I reprimanded myself for not paying more attention to my surroundings.
Then I snapped a picture.
That’s when I noticed something wasn’t quite right if it were a copperhead. The eyes weren’t right. And the head wasn’t a severe enough triangular shape, either.
Back for a second glance
I’ve heard them called puff adders and hognose snakes. But I never saw one with my own eyes before. This one looked a lot like a copperhead to me, even with closer inspection, but I knew that it wasn’t by this time because I’d seen the little upturned snout.
They’re non-poisonous and have an appetite for toads. The southern hognose is becoming endangered, but I think this one is an eastern variety. This was a smallish one, but they never get very large.
Hognose snakes rarely bite even when they do strike. They’ll more often just head-butt you to make you think you were bitten.
It got a bit alarmed when I didn’t go away and flared out the sides of its neck a little more, as if to say “Be afraid. Be very afraid, because I’m so dangerous.”
The little bluffer pulled out all the stops when I picked up a stick to prompt it to get off the road. Rob was coming back down the driveway on the 4wheeler to get me and I didn’t want him to accidentally run it over.
Trying really hard to be scary
Now it looked like it was trying to mimic a cobra, hood flared, head waving, tongue flicking and it even began hissing too.
Calling the Hognose Bluff
Eventually, if this snake feels threatened enough, it will turn over, stick out its tongue, and play dead. I didn’t push it that far, just prompted it to get off the road and back into the leaves. It happily slithered away once it realized I wasn’t in pursuit.
I never did get the photo of the magnolia or the acorn. It was more fun watching the puff adder try to frighten the daylights out of me.
You can read more about this breed here: http://srelherp.uga.edu/snakes/hetpla.htm, here: http://herpsofarkansas.com/Snake/HeterodonPlatirhinos and watch a video of one playing dead here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BhMqMRUZYIQ
P.S. If you like snakes and want a print, these photos will be available in the new Wild Ozark Nature Boutique, opening soon 🙂
Predator and Prey, or the hunter and the hunted is a common theme throughout my fiction writing. No Qualms, one of my short stories (free at most retailers) is about about a predator/prey relationship. Symbiosis, my first finished novel, not published yet, deals with predator/prey relationships and the balance of energy among life on earth, sometimes symbolic and often outright. Many of my flash fiction stories (I have twitterfiction and 100-word flash stories) are also dealing with this same dynamic. This is a strong theme that runs through most of my fiction and is strongly influenced by life in the wild Ozarks where we live. My first published novel, First Hunt, also has a predator and prey theme to it. I guess it's just part of my nature.
Wild Ozark is 160 acres of beautiful wild Ozark mountains. I call what I do "nature farming" because the land produces, all by itself, the shagbark hickory trees, ferns, moss, ground-fall botanicals, and the perfect habitats for growing and stewarding American ginseng. I'm co-creating with Nature - all of the things I use to make the Fairy Gardens and Forest Folk, the bark we harvest for Burnt Kettle's shagbark hickory syrup, are produced by nature without my input. This land is my muse for inspiration when it comes to my writing, drawing, and photography. It's truly a Nature Farm.
About the voice behind this blog, Madison Woods
I'm a creative old soul living way off the beaten path with my husband in the wild Ozark Mountains. Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My rural fantasy fiction, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.