View Full Version : Hognose bite!

08-30-2003, 08:12 PM
Ok, welp, I am here to ask anyone who has any info on treating a hognose snake bite. lol I have a mexican hognose which has taken his bad day out on me. :( He did his "chewing" action which didn't feel the greatest... and now I am left with a very swollen hand which is tender to the touch. He got me on my finger and that finger along with another finger and my whole right side of my hand is very tight, almost hard feeling. That has since gone away but still have a huge hand. The only reason that I am asking.... is because it really does hurt... lol and was wondering if anyone knew anything that I could do?

It's actually very embarrassing because I have had snakes for about 10 years now and never been bit..... hmmm guess there is a first for everything? Yeah, I know.... bad joke. lol


08-31-2003, 12:18 PM
I would see a doctor, it may be infected if it's all swollen.

Aside from that, take an Advil as they help releave swelling, soak it in cold water for ten minutes let it warm back to norm. temp and then soak it in warm water for ten minutes, try this a few times to loosen it up. And put neosporin or a triple anti-biotic on it with gauze wrapped around it after you have cleaned it out as much as possible with soap and water. Try to keep in elevated if its bleeding at all or if you have that pounding sensation whenever your heart beats. After it begins to heal try to use it to encourage circulation which can help it to heal faster.

If it starts to smell bad, get pussy, turn funky colors, hurt alot or become numb or hot, then get thee to a doctor fast.

Be careful, if it gets really bad you could end up with a nasty infection and could possibly loose your hand and that would suck.

get better!!!


Clay Davenport
08-31-2003, 01:06 PM
It's swollen because he's had a reaction to being envenomated by the hognose.
Not saying it can't or won't get infected, but doubt it's gotten infected that quickly.

As far as treatment, I know of nothing but to wait it out. If you have secondary symptoms, you might want to see a doctor, but that's highly unlikely.
Here's a pictorial of the results of a reaction to a hog bite.
http://www.herpnet.net/bite (http://www.herpnet.net/bite/)

08-31-2003, 03:20 PM
Thanks for the replies!! Looks like I will just keep an eye on it so it doesn't get infected. Those pics pretty much look like my hand ...

Thank you both for the info!!


Clay Davenport
08-31-2003, 05:02 PM
It would have been better if the fellow had given a full account of the bite sequence. He stopped at 45 hours and swelling to the elbow.
I'd be interested to know how long it took for the swelling to begin to subside and how long before the hand was normal again.
I haven't come across any better documentation of a reaction though, and I don't know of anyone personally that's had a reaction to a hog bite.

08-31-2003, 07:06 PM
Yes, it has been about 50 hours since the bite... and doesn't seem to have gone down any. We will see how long this takes....



08-31-2003, 09:00 PM
Well.. whenever I get stung by a yellowjacket the swelling goes away abruptly after 72 hours so... hang in there!

Erin B.

09-01-2003, 09:29 AM
Is that pretty much the same type of bite?

09-01-2003, 11:07 AM
Wow, those pictures are gross! I'd never seen such swelling from such a little bite.

Gro-Tay :)

Get better, get better, get better!

09-02-2003, 11:32 AM
That was a good link that you found Clay. I am now looking at my baby hog in a different light. I hold him everyday so he gets used to being held.
Hope the swelling goes down for you soon, keep us updated.

Clay Davenport
09-02-2003, 11:50 AM
Keep in mind these are feeding bites. Defensive or aggressive bites from hognoses are very rare. I have never seen one do it. Defensive strikes are performed with closed mouths.
Most of these bites though are from a hungry hog thinking he has a meal. The point being, getting them used to being held won't necessarily prevent one of these bites, although it will definately help.
Many snakes, including alot of hogs have such a good feeding response that they're prone to give an exploratory bite to anything warm that comes near their mouth.
I still do not regard hogs as being dangerous, but care needs to be taken while handling them, not to let them decide to give you a test bite. If they do, try not to let them hang on.
I don't believe everyone will suffer this sort of reaction either. I have been chewed on by hogs a few times, but normally by smaleer specimens who may not have been large enough to get the rear teeth to my skin.
They're great little snakes, and very easy to handle etc, but you just have to excercise a little more caution than you would with a kingsnake.

09-02-2003, 11:55 AM
Well... the swelling has just started to go down.... still VERY tender. It's tender all over ... not just in the spot where I got bit. Anyway, my hog has always been aggressive since I got him a couple of months ago. I got him from someone that wasn't taking care of him and never handled him. He is an adult hog and is not used to be handled. I have other hogs that I have had since babies and I handle them all the time and they are very friendly. After all this.. I still love them to death! I know that it wasn't his fault... I will just have to be a bit more aware of his "nose nudging" when handling him. If he is nudging something (even in his tank) and it doesn't move... he gets very upset and "hoods" up and hisses. Yes, he has issues... LoL

Thanks for all the info!!


09-02-2003, 12:20 PM
Glad to hear the swelling has gone down. If it looked anything like some of those pictures it must have been aweful.
I will take care in feeding mine. I just got him and on his first feeding I had to bump the pinkie on his nose, he took it very nicely (I wont do that once he is bigger).
These hogs are just so darn cute!!!
I will take all the advice given.
Good luck with your hog, he seems to have an agenda of his own!

09-02-2003, 02:42 PM
Aren't they just adorable??!! Good luck with your little hoggy... and post pics when you can! :D
Yes, my hand and arm looked just like those pics... it wasn't enjoyable by no means.. LoL


bud mierkey
01-24-2004, 04:19 PM
Hello all,
I have been bitten many times by many venomous species.
rear fanged snakes are underated as far as I am concerned.
The venom docs have found toxic properties in many common
The species of note is the radiated rat snake it has in very snall amounts the same toxins as a naja kaouthia but its not a threat.
the hognose that would be the worst is the largest found
in madagasgar I had one that got pretty big he would trash a mouse in a bout a min gone.
Also a big false water cobra has venom comparable to a rattle snake but again in small quanities.
the worst are the twig snake and the boomslang which is a very deadly snake.
have fun

Seamus Haley
01-24-2004, 05:01 PM

American Hognoses aren't venomous, they merely have toxins present in the saliva that can cause odd reactions in allergic individuals. In order to be venomous, even rear fanged, there has to be a specific delivery system present for the injection of the toxins. The duvernoy's glands in Heterodons aren't connected to the rear "fangs" it's merely a toxin present in the saliva which can enter the bloodstream through open wounds. It's a minor distinction, but an important one.

And madagascan "Hognoses" aren't particularly closely related to other "Hognoses", not even close really. They shouldn't be included in any discussion about the toxin potential of Heterodon sp.

bud mierkey
01-24-2004, 09:57 PM
Yes Seamus,
Hogs are not classified "venomous"
But the pics clearly show a good case of envenomation.
Envenomation= being envenomated with venom
Toxic saliva = some protein toxic to living cells in the saliva.
All venom is modified saliva and is produced and excreted.

So if I use your template,
In order for a gila monster to be venomous it would need hollow fangs and a vestibule type gland with a venom duct?
You know they introduce the venom into the open wound like the hog.
Its a minor distinction but a important one.
I will still consider gilas venomous Seamus.

And to the allergic reaction comment I hate to tell you a allergic reaction would not manifest like the two bite cases did.
Simple allergy meds would have reversed it.
Yes strange it is ?
Sorry about the leoheterodon bit but they will swell you up exactly as the little heterodon just worse and its no allergic reaction in either case.
day all

Seamus Haley
01-24-2004, 11:36 PM
But the pics clearly show a good case of envenomation

No... the pics clearly show a good case of a toxin entering the bloodstream.

All venom is modified saliva and is produced and excreted

If you limit the discussion to venom in reptiles, yes... sorta. However, this does not mean that all saliva containing toxins is a venom, nor does it mean that the needed delivery mechanism is in place to qualify as venomous. It should be of note that, while venom glands are very similra to salivary glands in composition and function, the two are not 100% identical, there is a great deal of evolution between the two. There is a breakpoint between venomous and merely producing toxins.

In order for a gila monster to be venomous it would need hollow fangs and a vestibule type gland with a venom duct?

No, it would need to have s specific method for delivering the venom into the bloodstream of prey (or predators, as a defense), which a gila does... Pressure on the teeth of the lower jaw causes venom to be released in such a manner as to flow along the grooves, into the wound made by the teeth. The north american hognose have no such mechanism, not even one as primitive as the gilas must be said to be. The "fangs" are completely unrelated to the toxins which the animals produce, the ducts don't open anywhere near them, they are not hollow or grooved and their function is entirely independant of toxin delivery.

You know they introduce the venom into the open wound like the hog.

No they don't, see above.

Sorry about the leoheterodon bit but they will swell you up exactly as the little heterodon just worse

They actually ARE rear fanged venomous, heterodon are not. The animals are not particularly related, despite having a similar common name. Catfish are not felines, Leioheterodon are not Heterodon and their inclusion is inappropriate and misleading. Or... maybe you just didn't know until it was pointed out.

bud mierkey
01-25-2004, 09:28 PM
Here is a paper a friend of mine wrote.
He is a venom expert PHD.
The VENOM DOC you might know him
The toxin you speak of is a venom.
and there is ample evidence read it for your self and update
your powerfull memory banks with this new paper.
I knew I was right so here is the link.


I wait for your reply and possible retraction.:D

Seamus Haley
01-26-2004, 10:45 AM
I'm not sure what that was supposed to prove exactly Bud... except maybe that you were unable to grasp the point of that paper.

Let's look at a few things here, real slow and simple, so you can understand.

1) A venom is defined as a toxin which is injected. In order for this to happen, there must be a specific injection method and associated biological adaptations towards that function.

2) Heterodon do not have the ability to inject the toxins they produce.

3) Dr Fry's study was an anaysis of toxins present in colubrid saliva- noting the similarities to known venoms. The point of this study was to further his hypothesis that colubrid evolution caused the loss of venom production capabilities, rather than the traditionally accepted and fairly well documented theory that it was going in the other direction. His theories are interesting, possibly valid but not particularly germaine to the topic at hand. He is also not infalliable, although certainly must be respected for his considerable experience.

4) If you read the study (Did you actually read it Bud? Somehow I doubt it) you'll find the section detailing how the toxins were collected to be of specific importance. Saliva was collected from many of the colubrids, not venom. The use of the term venom throughout other sections of the paper to denote toxins produced by snakes are all very specific in their application, identifying known compounds found in truely venomous species or comparing the toxins produced.

5) Funny thing was, I didn't find a single part of that paper which stated that hognoses had a specific method for toxin injection, which is what you would need to show in order to prove your point (No, not the one on top of your thick little bullet head, the one where you try to maintain that heterodon are venomous).

I noticed that you dropped the issue of Leioheterodon being relevant to a discussion about Heterodon- smart move, especially since you didn't seem able to spell it.

Bottom line though... heterodon don't have a delivery system for their toxins, this is essentially the defining point of the term "venomous" and the manner in which it is applied is the point which makes venom unique from other toxins.

bud mierkey
01-26-2004, 05:56 PM
So should we call hognoses toxic snakes?
are you still holding to your opinion that its allergic reaction
that causes the massive swelling?

Seamus Haley
01-26-2004, 06:24 PM
So should we call hognoses toxic snakes?

Or... snakes that produce toxins. We shouldn't call them venomous though. While the toxin production is very similar, it lacks the important aspect of a delivery system.

are you still holding to your opinion that its allergic reaction that causes the massive swelling?

Kinda... allergic reaction isn't exactly the right way to describe it. Individual sensitivities to the toxins would be a bit more like it. The exact toxin composition will vary depending on what the hognose last ate, how old it is, what the temperature is and many other factors. The type of tissue that the toxin ends up in will have different reactions too... And then there's a great deal of truth to the statement that not everyone reacts the same anyway, even if all other factors were equal. I've been chewed on by hognoses, it kinda tingled a bit. Other people get chewed up and end up looking as if they were tagged by something that's truly venomous.

Out of curiosity, ever seen what happens to a toad or lizard that gets bitten and escapes?

Very interesting, if not pretty... the toxins in snakes are generally geared towards their common prey items, having stringer effects on the types of organisms that they're most likely to eat. This goes for toxic species, like hognoses, nerodia and garters and true venomous species. A very string reaction to hognose saliva isn't a common one in people, it happens obviously but it's not very likely in most individuals.

bud mierkey
01-26-2004, 06:36 PM
When it warms up I will test a toad with the saliva it sounds neat.

bud mierkey
01-26-2004, 08:42 PM
here is bryans input on the subject

>Bottom line though... heterodon don't have a delivery system for their toxins, this is essentially the defining point of the term "venomous" and the manner in which it is applied is the point which makes venom unique from other toxins.

Actually, Heterodon have quite well developed rear teeth and use them to deliver the venom to their prey items (prey capture of course being the original function of venom) and have even caused obvious human envenomations (but very unlikely to be lethal but that is different from being venomous).

Venom predated fangs rather than the other way around and evolution does only one thing at a time (ie fangs and venom did not evolve simutaneously). Venom predating fangs is a perfectly logical scenario since there cannot be a strong selection pressure for the evolution of fangs in the absense of a potent venom worth delivering. Venom is delivered in the non-front fanged species even in the absense of greatly enlarged teeth, the normal teeth are quite capable of breaking the skin of a frog and delivering enough venom to aid in prey capture.

We have shown in other papers in press that in some cases, even with the species that lack greatly enlarged teeth, the venom is just as toxic as comparable elapid venoms. There is a tremendous range of toxicity, development of teeth, venom yield, etc. Exactly what would be expected considering venom has been around for over 60 million years and that the basal venomous snake has diversified into about eight different families, with highly advanced fangs evolving independently on at least four different occasions.


Dr. Bryan Grieg Fry
Australian Venom Research Unit

Seamus Haley
01-26-2004, 10:28 PM
As much as I dislike finding myself on the opposite end of a debate with someone as credible as Dr Fry, I'm going to continue to disagree, even if it's simply a matter of semantics.

Venom predated fangs rather than the other way around and evolution does only one thing at a time (ie fangs and venom did not evolve simutaneously).

Evolution does a multitude of things simultaneously, organisms do not adapt in only a single facet of their biology, but constantly and continuously in EVERY aspect to an ever changing environment.

The definition of "venom" is a toxin which is injected, has an injection method. So while the toxin can develop in ever increasing potentcy, it is not a VENOM in the strictest sense of the word until the injection method is present.

The rear fangs have been strongly evidenced to be present for reasons other than toxin injection, the ducts which carry the toxins into the mouth don't open very close to the rear teeth and those rear teeth are not hollow, not grooved and pressure exerted on them does not cause a signifigant increase in the amount of toxins present in the saliva.

Dr Fry has been pushing his evolutionary theory, one which must be noted to contradict all those which had gone before it, not to say it's not accurate, just that, being new, it's not as well evidenced. Because of the manner in which he has been looking at the evolution of venom, he has reversed the definition of "venom" as well. Rather than "Colubrids are evolving towards venom" he is working on "Colubrids are evolving away from venom" and as such it is important that others accept his definition of venom as simply being a toxin. As of yet... and again, not to detract from his credibility or intend any disrespect, he has not shown any of the environmental factors which would be responsible for the loss of an evolutionary edge, the loss of an advantage over other species and other individuals within a population. It's an important question that will have to be answered before his theories are really accepted by "the masses", in some instances I'll accept the word of an obvious expert within their own field... But for something so radically different than what was previously thought to be true, I'd suggest additional evidence. The prescence of similar toxins is important, but until it's shown otherwise, I'm still going to work off the idea that it happened the other way around.