Wednesday, April 13, 2011

HOGNOSE SNAKE SUB-FAMILY (Heterodon): Proper Use of Masks

            Preferring the sandy areas of North America, Members of the Hognose Snake Sub-family hunt their favorite prey – Toads.  Immune to the toxic secretions of these Amphibians, Hognose Snakes will dig into the dirt for Them.  Contrary to popular belief, these Snakes do not use their rear fangs to pop Toads who puff Themselves up.  Instead the venom of these stout Snakes are toxic to the Toads. 
            Hognose Snakes use their unusual nose to root around in the soil looking for buried Toads. (Their snout is a large nostril scale.) Named for this distinctive nose, these Snakes use it for digging and burrowing.  Unlike the other Snakes, Hognose Snakes will dig their own burrows to sleep in. 
            Besides their upturned noses, Hognose Snakes are noted for their myriad ways of evading predators.  First, these clumsy and slow Snakes will blend into their environment.  If that does not succeed, Hognose Snakes will burrow to escape a menace.  Finally, They will also roll over on their backs and play dead.
            Hognose Snakes are also called “Puff Adders” or “Blowing Adders”.  When threatened, these Snakes rear back, flatten their heads, and take a deep breath.  After that, They inflate their bodies and hiss loudly.  People often mistake Hognose Snakes for venomous ones, and leave Them alone.
            Hognose Snakes teach about hidden identities and the proper use of masks.  Although, They do not pop the bodies of Toads, Hognose Snakes have become known as “Toad Poppers”.  Their threat displays have earned Them their name of “Puff Adder”.  These harmless Snakes have taken on an identity of a venomous Viper to save Themselves.  This serves Them well to have a fearsome reputation, since They are usually left alone.  However, Hognose Snakes are sometimes mistaken for Rattlesnakes and are usually killed. Therefore use masks wisely counsel Hognose Snakes.
Science Notes:

1.      The common name of “hognose snake” also refers to the hognose snakes of Madagascar (Leioheterodon) and hognose snakes of South America (Lystrophis).
2.      Puff Adder (Bitis arietans) is a venomous member of the Viper Family.  This African snake is not related to any of the hognose snakes.

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