Hognose Snakes as Pets: 14 Questions & Answers (Explained)

Hognose Snakes as Pets-Everything You Need to Know

One of the most intriguing animals on this Earth is a snake, hands down! Yet, as cool as they are, there still tends to be plenty of fear directed towards them.

From what makes hognose snake happy to what makes it hiss; to how to care for them, and even the best diet to feed them are important to know.

Snakes are interesting to say the least; but you can be the judge of that after learning more about the Hognose snake.

Are Hognose Snakes Good Pets?

If you’re interested in a snake as a pet, a Hognose snake would be a great start for beginner pet owners.

To begin with, Hognose snakes don’t grow too big to where they will harm you, but grow big enough for you to enjoy them as a pet and companion. They can grow big enough to fit inside the palm of your hand.

Also, Hognose snakes are pretty intriguing; this is because of their physical appearance of various earth tone colors and intricate patterns. These snakes are diurnal as well (meaning that they are active during the day and sleep at night) so they won’t disturb your natural sleep pattern.

In addition, they are economic animals, and require a small amount of money to purchase. They are also pretty low-maintenance animals; simply keep their area clean and give them food, and watch them grow a bond with you like never before.

Is A Hognose Snake Poisonous?

Hognose snakes are known to be a bit aggressive when they are disturbed or trying to get some rest.

With that being said, a Hognose snake is only mildly poisonous by its nature. It belongs to the cobra family, and a feature for them is that they have small fangs along the back of their jaws.

The fangs don’t come out until necessary; and although there are small teeth back there that have a slim chance of harming a human, there is still venom in there. The poison that that do have reserved in their body is meant for sedating small animals so that they may capture it.

The venom that sedates makes their prey relax to the point of stillness so that the snake may safely and feed. If you come into contact with the venom of a Hognose Snake, simply contact Poison Control, or visit your local physician.

How Long Do Hognose Snakes Live For?

When undisturbed in the wide open doors, without a caretaker, Hognose snakes can live for about 10 to 15 years. While in captivity, or simply with a caretaker, it can live for up to 18 years!

What makes this possible is the fact that there is someone there to make sure that it’s fed, as well as to make sure that there is a bond or connection with them, which actually does make a major difference.

Their diet also plays a major role in whether or not they will live for their maximum lifespan. In captivity, there’s a less likely chance that they will eat something that is poisonous to them. Also, they are sure to be fed, which means they won’t die early from hunger or dehydration.

Temperature also play a role in their lifespan. They are creatures that love to be in warmth; so make sure that they are able to be in room temperature to warm areas will help them live their best life to the fullest.

How Big Do Hognose Snakes Get?

In general, hognose snakes are stout, thick bodied animals; since that is the case, their body does not achieve great length.

Adult Hognose snakes are capable of growing anywhere from 14 to 40 inches, depending on the species (eastern hogs are the largest, southern hogs the smallest).

Females Hognoses are known to grow larger than males for the fact that they are the ones that will become pregnant, and require enough space to carry their babies.

WIth regard to their size, they are still capable of eating and swallowing small preay pretty efficiently, and do so in a smooth fashion.

Once the prey has entered their body, the Hognose’s body will expand to a size of the prey itself, until it is fully digested, then the hognose will return to its natural physical state.

How Much Do Hognose Snakes Cost?

This may come as a surprise to you, but Hognose snakes are a widely desired pet. This is because of their docile nature, interesting look, small yet sturdy bodies, and their reptilian cuteness.

When you’re considering purchasing one, prepare to spend anywhere between $50 dollars and $600 dollars. Hognose snakes come in different brands, and the cost is based on certain factors.

For instance, the area that the snake came from. If it was captured and sent across the country, you’ll be spending and average of $200 dollars to $400 dollars. If it was caught in the same state or are that you live in, it could be about $100 dollars less.

Another major factors that will determine the cost of a Hognose snake is availability. If the snake is widely available, it will have a cheaper cost; but if it is a rare breed that can only be found in certain areas of the country, be willing to kick out $400 to $600 dollars for your new Hognose snake.

Do Hognose Snake Bites Hurt?

In essence, no, a Hognose snake bite will not hurt very much.

Hognose snakes have very tiny fangs all the way in the back of their mouth; so in order to actually cause some real damage, your body part has to be able to reach all the way back there. If you do make this happen, remember that their venom is mild for humans.

They don’t produce much harmful venom, nor do they blow their breath at large animals or people, and contrary to popular belief, most of their snake bites are not painful.

If one does try to attempt to bite you, it could end up being a dry bites.

Dry bites are referred to as “misses,” where no venom is injected due to the lack of venom, a glancing blow, or penetration could not occur because of the clothing that is protecting you. When it comes to Hognose snake bites, dry bites account for about 20-30% of all their snakebites.

Do Hognose Snakes Smell?

Considering that they are called “Hognose” snakes, you would think that their upright, protruded nose will help them smell better; and you’d be absolutely correct!

While most snakes have nostrils, but use body heat heat signatures to find their prey, both ewatern and western Hognose snakes use their enlarged nose.

Their nose is special, especially for a snake, because the internal parts of the nose, such as the nostrils and their olfactory bulb, is bigger and stronger than the average snake; meaning that they have a very easy time finding and following the scent of a small rodent or other reptile or amphibian.

Also, their natural environment of sandy or high grassy areas do not interrupt their sense of smell, so keeping one as a pet, or simply coming into contact with one will be interesting, as they will use their nose to trace you, and become familiar with your scent.

Why Do Hognose Snakes Hiss?

Hognose snakes hiss out of fear and as a threat. Some snakes are well-equipped to defend themselves through venom or by being very big in size, but Hognose snakes are smaller and only mildly venomous.

For that reason, hissing is an intimidating sound, and it helps to dissuade any predators that may want to attack it.

Hognose snakes have an organ in the throat called the glottis, through which they breathe. When it breathes normally, the glottis opens and closes to control the flow of air. Usually, this is a quiet process, but can change at the snake’s discretion.

A hissing Hognose gives the impression of a larger, more dangerous snake. Additional to hissing, a Hognose snake may attempt to bite their predator or simply flee the scent.

In serious circumstances, a Hognose will simultaneously use more than one defensive tactic to achieve the best results.

Can Hognose Snakes Swim?

Indeed, a Hognose snake can swim.

They use their stout and strong body to consistently swivel from left to right in order to propel themselves forward to either the prey that they are seeking, the land that they are trying to reach, or to even take a nice deep in the water to regulate their internal body temperatures.

What makes it possible, is their internal organs. The glottis that helps them to breath is also the same organ that helps them to swim.

Some Hognose snakes keep their head above water while they swim in order not to drown; however, there are other breeds of Hognose snakes that are capable of closing their glottis for a short period of time, which allows them to hold their breath and swim underneath the surface of the water.

This is a great feature about them that aids in capturing their prey, or being able to swim faster at the very least.

Do Hognose Snakes Like To Climb?

To answer the question directly, Hognose snakes usually do not climb, but will attempt to if the circumstance allows them to.

There seems to be a split answer of both yes and no when it comes to whether a hognose snake likes to climb, so I’ll inform you of reasons that satisfy both sides.

Naturally, Hognose snakes are considered “ground snakes” meaning that they spend most of their life on the ground in sand or grassy areas. In addition to their natural habitat, Hognose snakes don’t grow to be very long.

So with these factors, it seems unlikely for a Hognose to attempt to climb a large tree, simply because it isn’t big enough; they much rather prefer to burrow.

On the other hand, if there is a prey or a location that the snake desires, and a sizeable and sturdy stick will help them achieve their mission, it will try to climb the stick, and will most likely do so with success.

Do Hognose Snakes Kill Their Prey?

Hognose snakes are more known to sedate their prey instead of fully killing them. This is because of their small bodies.

The body of a Hognose snakes is thick, but has a limited internal expansion rate. Therefore, they have to eat what they can fit inside of their body, whether it be dead or alive. Another factor that determines whether or not a Hognose snake will kill their prey is the size of the prey.

If the prey is a small rodent or amphibian, this snake could strangle or constrict it with its larger and longer body in order to crush the prey to a smaller size to easily ingest it.

They may also use their fangs to deliver a crushing blow to their smaller counterparts, and inject their mild venom inside of the prey, which will simply sedate it so that the snake can have a satisfying meal with little to no struggle.

Can Hognose Snakes Live Together?

Hognose snakes are pretty docile animals, and they are capable of living together in small or medium sized groups. For safety reasons, a Hognose snake group may consist of two to four snakes at a time.

This will give them the opportunity to connect with other snakes and have at least the smallest amount of social interaction.

However, there is a time where they should not be together, and that’s during feeding time. It’s best to separate these intriguing snakes while feeding them for one simple reason: fighting.

If they are all in one area, and the food is simply thrown into their pit, the snakes will fight each other for it, thus hurting themselves in the process.

How Many Eggs Do Western Hognose Snakes lay?

The amount of eggs that can be layed is anywhere from eight to 25 or more eggs. Western Hognoses can lay up to 23, while Eastern Hognoses can lay up to 40!

There are many variables that play into clutches – or eggs – including the size of the female Hognose, her age, and the size of the eggs.

After the eggs are laid, they are to stay with the mother snake under her protection and body heat, or be kept in a warm outdoor nest with moisture and adequate air circulation.

The eggs can be kept warm at an optimal range of 78 to 84 degrees. Hognose eggs should be left to grow and developed, and should not to disturbed during this process.

In addition, hatching can occur after 48 to 60 days of incubation.

Care For Hognose Snakes


Hognose snakes will consume small mammals. Their natural diet can consist of amphibians such as frogs, toads, or the eggs of said animals. They may also engage in other reptiles such as small lizards, or the eggs of reptiles.

In most feeding cases, Hognose snakes will have one rodent or amphibian per meal. For these reasons, a good feeding frequency can be about once a week throughout most of its life.

Hatchling Hognoses should be fed once or twice a week, while full-grown adults can be fed with less frequency. If you stick to a feeding schedule of every 7 to 10 days, your Hognose snake will be well fed.


Hognose snakes are not as bad as they look. These snakes are pretty easy-going, and don’t cause much fuss when it comes to being handled or cared for by humans.

Signs of aggression may occur when the snake is hungry, resting, or simply doesn’t want to be bothered. These signs may include slight hissing, resistance to being picked up, or a quick nip at a finger.

The nip at the finger can seem worrisome; but Hognose bites seldom occur.

In any case, to combat the feistiness of an Hognose that is eager to eat, you can use a device that can be used as an extension of your hand to feed the snake, without getting too close to their mouth.

Tongs or forceps to are good for reducing the chance of an accidental bite, while keeping yourself safe, and your snake at a balanced temperament.

Terrarium Size

When it comes to baby Hognose snakes, it’s best to begin with either a 5-10 gallon aquarium or a 6qt tub. For a mature Hognose, the terrarium can be either a  20 gallon glass tank or a 28-32 qt tub.

This will allow enough room for them to adequately move about and grow appropriately.

Terrariums can be made out of different materials such as wood, plastic, or even melamine. In the end, it all comes down to what you prefer best for your scaly friend.

Do Hognose Snakes Need A Heat Lamp?

Hognose snakes are pretty good at adjusting to various temperatures, as long as they are warm and toasty, with some humidity. So in this case, a heat lamp will be very beneficial.

Heat from the lamp can provide the essence of natural lighting. Standard incandescent heat lights are a top choice for heating lamps; in addition, you may also consider sub-terrarium heating pads, or even infrared bulbs could do the trick.

However, if they are kept in a container, it’s best to provide them lots of light that ranges between the temperature of  80 degrees.

One section of the enclosure can be a bit hotter at about 90 degrees, while the other section should be a cooler, reaching around 75 to 78 degrees fahrenheit; which gives the snake multiple options for temperature regulation.


There is a special way in which you should handle a Hognose, and it all starts with approaching it correctly.

After washing your hands, it’s best to approach the snake from the side so that it can see you coming; this will keep them in a calm state, without surprising them.

Reach in to the enclosure, and pick them up, starting from the side. As you lift it out of the enclosure, hold as much of its body in your hands as possible. Do your best to avoid grabbing the snake’s tail or restraining the head, because this is treated as an aggressive act towards them.

Once the snake is out of its enclosure, hold it close to your body, as the snake will see this as comfortable and safe, while safely – and gently – guiding its movements with your hands.

And for your own safety purposes, keep the snake away from your face, and avoid touching the head at first, as most snakes are head are not a fan head stroking.

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