View Full Version : Hognose for beginners?

10-05-2004, 06:55 PM
For those that have kept hognose, would you recommend them to someone with no "hot" experience? I have only kept boids, and recently some colubrids...

I am in love with them, and have been for a long time, but I am not sure if I am ready for them. Their basic husbandry sounds simple enough, but I do see the arguments on whether they are considered venomous or not.

Mark and Aimee
10-05-2004, 10:41 PM
I'd recommend a well started Western Hognose to someone with *no* snake experience.


10-07-2004, 10:35 AM
Hey, I think that owning a Hognose is a wonderful start for anyone interested in snakes. Many times people will intimidate you and make you think that they are harder to care for than they really are. I own over 20 Easterns and there is no easier snake to care for in captivity with such reward than my Hog babies. My melanistic laid 15 more eggs in a late clutch so my house is growing, but back to the care. Hognoses especially Easterns and Southerns require certain proteins found only in toads to provide proper kidney function. The hardest part about the care is finding toads whether American, Southern, Oak, Spadefoot, or any other toad found in the US and being able to supply their healthy appetites through out the winter. This is what I recommend; first collect as many toads as possible before the end of the warmer weather. This can be done by driving or walking along a body of fresh water in the evenings right after a rain shower. In fact I found over 150 med to large toads in less than 2 hours this past summer. Next, freeze the excess and insure there is enough for the entire winter and early spring all the while finding and feeding them live ones untill they stop coming out. Now that is it, there is nothing else to worry about other than proper caging such as a 10 gallon glass aquarium with pine bedding and something to hide under due to their apt to burrow, and a small water bowl changed every other day. The venom issue is more of an "urban legend" than anything else even though they possess the Duvoy's gland which has been affiliated with mild allergic reactions, but if you rule out snakes with this gland it would include the common garter snake, the ringneck snake, and many other harmless species unfairly stamped as mildly venomous. Well best of luck and I hope your Hognose experience is as good as all of mine.
Keith Rose

10-08-2004, 07:26 AM
You may find this Hognose article on venom interesting.


Don Flickner

10-08-2004, 01:17 PM
Thanks Don for the article. The only thing that really sticks out to me is the statement from the article and I quote "Reactions by individuals to bites from Heterodon may be directly related to individual anaphylactic or allergic reactions", also the quote "...it is unlikely that they present any kind of threat to humans..." basically the Duvernoy's gland is the same thing as the parotid gland that is responsible for saliva production. In the truly "venomous" rear fanged Elapids such as the Coral Snake, evolution has transformed their saliva into a neurotoxin that affects the brain responses and kills quite efficiently. The hognose snake has no such venom in fact humans have the same gland and if hauman saliva is injected into the epidermal tissue of another human it will cause the same if not more severe reaction. Lastly, thanks again for the article but if knowledgeable and snake loving people like ourselves labeled these harmless snakes as "venomous" it could and would hinder the existence of an already Federally Endangered and Federal Species of Concern.
Thanks again, Keith Rose

10-09-2004, 10:20 AM
The issue of hognoses being venomous has only gotten more debated with the recent research done on them by Brian Greig Fry. To paraphrase the links below, hognoses are technically venomous, with true fangs and a venom gland. A duvernoy's gland = venom gland
I want to emphasize that hognoses do not require any hot experience. I firmly believe that to be bitten by a Hognose is complete and pure carelessness on your part. The fact that they are venomous should not be an issue unless you are deathly allergic to bees or other insects bites (speculation on my part). I maintain a collection of Western and Eastern hognoses for use in educational outreach programs, we specifically use them for kindergarten classes because of their small size and their reluctance to bite. Hognoses being venomous is not at all an urban legend, as you'll see in the previous links. By the way, most of the information on Hognose.com is generally outdated.

I do not recommend hognoses for beginners simply because most people have problems with their hognoses going off feed at some point, and it may require some techniques to get them to feed again that would be beyond the scope of the beginners knowledge or willingness (braining for example). I would say that if you have almost any snake experience, you could move up to a Western.

For Keith Rose: Of all of the arguments I've ever heard about Eastern's needing to be fed toads to be healthy, requiring certain proteins for proper kidney function is a completely new one for me. I am currently in the process of digging up any type of scientific literature, including necropsy reports, on the captive husbandry of Eastern hognoses and specifically their captive diet. Unfortunately a lot of people base their decisions on captive herps on speculation and rumor, if you have any evidence to support your claim, I would love to see it.

Otherwise there is no evidence to support the claim that hognoses NEED amphibians in their diet to be healthy. This is supported further by my personal communications with a half a dozen breeders who feed exclusively rodents to their hognoses, and straight out of the egg. I also can not encourage anybody to collect wild animals to feed a pet snake especially when we're talking about animals that have their own problems to deal with, without people depleting their populations for an unnecessary reason.

10-09-2004, 02:56 PM
i did not read the article, but i do research Southern Hognoses, along with breeding them. My insite on them, and according to my experiments, The enlarged rear fangs have been thought to be used to "pop" the toads for ease of swallowing. But I'm not positive if this is correct, but i believe that the rear fangs could ALSO be used for positioning the frog, and inserting the venom into the frog so it relaxes its stomach from its defense mechanism. therefore the air is released and the frog/toad will slowly die, and the snake will swallow the food.

Just my idea of what could also be a possibility.

10-09-2004, 05:48 PM
Hello, I just finished reading your thread and I had one question? Why is it that Hognose dealers push the belief that Southerns and Easterns can live full, healthy lives on just rodents? Well it is because if one required having to capture toads on a regular basis they probably would not buy these snakes. The other is that Westerns are physiologically different than the Southerns and Easterns. Westerns can and do have mainstay diets consisting of rodents only but the other 2 can't. You requested proof so to humor you and to be an objective Biologist I searched Yahoo and found on the first site this: "Although mice are a natural component of the diet of the western hog-nosed snake, they are less natural to either the eastern or the southern species"(Harrison,Ph.D). The following info was about the health risk and problems associated with the long term effects of a rodent only diet. Now I found that on my first try so I will leave the "eastern and southern hog-nosed renal failure research" to you and the breeders you are in contact with to find. Thank you for the response and good luck with your hogs.

10-09-2004, 06:28 PM
There have been many arguments whether or not rodents are healthy for southern and eastern hogs...i believe that they are not, because if they were, why wouldn't they survive off them...maybe because toads are easier for the hogs to dig up?

Or maybe because there are more population of frogs in the southern and eastern hogs area? Just my view of things.... Maybe ill be able to post a few things from my book on them when i have a chance including the article: " toads vs. mice for WC or Captive Eastern and Southern hognosed Snakes".

Seamus Haley
10-10-2004, 07:32 AM
This debate has been on here before... So I'll keep this short.

A Venomous animal is defined by two things; the ability to produce toxins and a specific injection method for those toxins. Hognoses produce toxins but the rear teeth are NOT hollow, NOT grooved and the ducts don't even open particularly close to them... So they only posess half the qualifications of a venomous species.


In the truly "venomous" rear fanged Elapids such as the Coral Snake

There are NO rear fanged elapids. Elapids by definition are fixed front fanged. Corals (since they were mentioned specifically) are fixed front fanged. Heterodon are colubridines... not elapids, not fixed front fanged and, as mentioned above, the enlarged rear teeth are NOT a delivery system for toxins.

10-10-2004, 05:26 PM
Seamus you are absolutely correct and a very knowledgeable scientist. My argument about the coral snake having rear fangs is innaccurate. They do have frontal fixed fangs and differ completely from the hogs that have "enlarged rear fangs" incapable of toxin injection. The only point I wanted to make is that they are not something to be feared. As our history has shown most things feared are destroyed and I worry about the declining populations of Heterodon here in my location and everywhere. Lastly, the idea of not fearing something does not mean not respecting it because as our beautiful oceans have proven time and time again, even the most tranquil and beautiful sea can and has taken the life of the folly and even the wise thus demanding respect just as everything in nature. So don't be afraid of the Hognose snake just respect the fact that some people have reacted to the bite of this species.

10-10-2004, 05:53 PM
If they are not recommended for a beginner (I only keep large boids, and more recently two rat snakes):

What would be recommended as a "stepping stone" snake to prepare for a hognose?

If they need amphibians in their diet, I would have to purchase them, as catching them in the wild is not an option for me.

10-12-2004, 01:18 PM
You could start with an adult western hognose that is already taking mice full time. The westerns can tolerate rodents as their mainstay and this way you could learn the behavior and temperment of the hognose species. Just remember that every snake is different and unique just like people so they will all have different personalities. Hognose snakes are fun and rather simple to care for and they really never bite humans unless one is being careless. Well, good luck and try purchasing an adult or sub-adult from any reputable western hognose dealer.

Beyond the Web
01-01-2005, 01:57 AM
I saw a pet shop employee just the other day who allowed a child, probably no older than 6 years old, handle a hognose! I believe it was a Western, anyway, is that "ok"?!

01-02-2005, 08:05 PM
As long as the child had no form of food scent on his hands (personal obs: even a sausage biscuit can be mistaken for food), then it is perfectly safe. Hogs don't bite out of defense.