Windswept (windsinger) wrote in wtf_nature,

Big post, little snakes! (Hognoses)

(note: I'm only going to be addressing hogs of the Americas for this post. Leios are pretty but don't harbor enough of the cute factors to be included. All tri-colored hog photos are from my personal schmoo Rose, it's just easier than digging through the internets. Everything else is ganked from my drive folders, so sorry I can't provide much in the way of credits.)

WTF, nature tried pulling out all it's stops on cuteness for the hognose snake.

The Cute Factor
Wikipedia generally describes these snakes as:
"The hognose snake is a type of colubrid snake characterized by an upturned snout. They are notorious for playing dead when threatened. The hognose snakes consist of three distantly related genera that are artificially grouped together by the "hognose" common name: Heterodon which are predominantly found in United States and northern Mexico. Leioheterodon the Madagascar hognose snakes, and Lystrophis the South American or tri-colored hognose snakes."

Oh, but there is SO much more. See, this scalie has stolen all sorts of cute things, like: a piggie nose, extreme peaceful behavior in captivity, general weakness compared to other snakes, hamster/rabbit eyes, makes failing attempts to be threatening (and when that fails, plays dead), makes little huff sounds if it's put out with you, and the ability to get EXTREMELY FAT. Oh, and the piggy tail that curls. Alright, to subject you to the cuteness (warning, my skin is being shown in one of these, ohnoes).

Venom & Defense
Alright, to some of the more technical stuff to do this animal justice. The typical food item of wild hogs is frogs and toads. So, not only have they become immune to the local frog/toad poisons, and gained a hogsnout for rooting around in the mud and dirt, they're also equipped with fangs in the back of their jaws. Here's what happens if one bites you (blood warning). Rawr, scary!!!

I can hear everyone going 'aw man it was so cute, why does everything cute have to be dangerous? *cry*'. BUT WAIT. These snakes will never, ever, EVER bite in defense. Their fangs are far enough back that it takes serious chewing to get you envenomated, so they don't want to bother with it. They're also notoriously hard feeders in captivity, so you're not going to get a hog mistaking you for food unless you've rubbed your fingers all over dead mouse (or toads). Even then, you can usually get them to let go before the serious chewing happens.

So, what DO they do in the wild, should a human come trotting along? Wellllllll, for starters their patterns mimic local venomous snakes (the coral and rattler, the latter of which usually fools rednecks enough to get out their shotgun or shovel, sadly), and of course will do the rattling tail thing. They will also feign bites in which they 'headbutt' with their mouth closed or strike at the air, hoping the general striking movement will scare you away (this tactic never actually bites down on a target, though). Also also, their necks can spread like a cobra's to make them appear larger.

If all of that doesn't convince the attacker, they pull out their best move, FEIGN DEATH. This includes death throes, flopping over, tongue hanging out, and releasing a musk that smells specifically like rotting flesh. Sorry for the dumb people, but it's still a good example.

Captivity, Handling & Breeding

The snake in the video above is wild or never handled since birth, because hogs tame out EXTREMELY easily. At any given moment I can pick out Rose from her enclosure like one picks up a cat, and she's cool with it. They take a little snake know-how to own (slightly higher temp gradient preferred, tris need higher humidity, prone to resp. problems with dusty substrates, hard to feed and often going on feeding strikes, etc etc etc), but for handling they are an absolute dream. You can also put them down; whenever I do the quick clean on Rose's cage, I just plop her down on my bed with a hat to hide under, and she'll stay exactly where I put her down until it's time to pick her back up.

Now, should you be in the market for hogs, there are several options. They range from Kinda Pricey to Holy Shit. Tricolors I've seen are usually in the market for $150-$350, depending on clarity of band markings. The only real variation in tricolor hogs so far is where the bands 'shatter'. These broken-bandeds are more in the range of $600-$1k, and looks like this.

Western hogs, the ones that look like rattlers (there are also eastern and southerns, but those can be a pain in the ass to take care of so breeders aren't so feisty with them), have several color variations available. Common wild colors (common, red phase, green phase) can land you a hog anywhere from $60-100-somethin. Anything else instantly takes a leap; plain albinos usually can't be found for less than $500, and it only gets worse from there. But dang do they look pretty (photographed here is a normal, the darker red phase, a 'plain' albino and two extreme red albinos which cost an arm and a leg).

(hogs can 'play together', but it's highly recommended that you house them seperately, as disasters seldom but do happen, and these little guys cost way too much for that risk)
That doesn't seem like too much variety, when there are things like kingsnakes and cornsnakes. But no worries! Truth be told the designer breeding for these animals has just started, and all sorts of breeds are in the making. Here's a new 'anaconda' phase that just had hatchlings, which presold for $10k a pop (for the first hatchlings ever, I'm sure it'll get cheaper from there).

And... that about wraps it up for what I've got off the top of my head. If anyone has any questions, feel free to shoot, or scoot over to youtube and type in 'care hognose'. This one guy put up a series of short videos on some specifics of hognose care, and he rocks. But of course, comment here with Qs and I'll try my best to answer. ♥

edit: durh, I see there was a hogpost a while ago. Eh, it's repost night, right?
Tags: hognosed, snake, snakes
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