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 🙂