Western Hognose, Leeds
This page has been moved to : Western Hognose Caresheet
Caring for your Western Hognose
Please read the following information below very carefully as a basic guide to caring for your Western Hognose. Any new owner would be wise to purchase a more in depth book.
Western Hognoses are a small and unusual snake from the USA as well as parts of Canada and Mexico. They rarely grow over 2 feet long and their most distinctive feature is a modified pointed scale on their nose that gives them their name. They use this to dig up frogs and toads from loose sand.
They also have a few interesting behavioral characteristics. When they feel threatened they will flatten their necks out giving them the appearance of a small adders. In parts of the United States, these snakes have been nick named “Puff Adders”, though are completely unrelated to the puff adders from Africa. They will also hiss loudly and may bluff strike to scare off predators. They are also known for playing dead by lying on their backs, displaying their bellies with their mouths agape.
Western Hognose are a rear fanged type snake, which mean they have elongated fangs at the back of their mouth which are mildly venomous. Despite this, a western hognose bite is usually completely harmless to humans and their venom is thought to be specific to amphibians. They will rarely bite out of aggression and are normally quite tame and easily handled. Also, because of the position of the fangs, it is unlikely that the fangs will make contact with the skin even if your hognose was to bite. However, there are rare cases of humans being allergic to the venom. If you experience any adverse reactions to a Western Hognose bite, it is recommended you seek medical attention as soon as possible.
24 x 15 x 15 Vivarium or larger
Beech Chips/Repti Maize
Shallow, Heavy Dishes
Pinkies/Fluffs/Mice (Depending on age)
Calcium D3 and multivitamin supplements
Heat Mat, Thermostat
Western Hognoses are a diurnal snake, which mean that unlike many other species of snake kept as pets, they are often active during the day.
Because of their small size, a standard Exo Terra Faunarium would be fine for young or hatchling Hognoses, and the adults would need a 24” x 15” x 15” vivarium.
Be sure there are plenty of hiding places throughout the vivarium in the form of logs, rocks or artificial plants. Keep one of those hiding places moist by placing slightly dampened sphagnum peat moss inside to help your Western Hognose shed properly. Water must always be available in a heavy shallow dish. The temperature during the day should be maintained between 85F on the hot side and 70F at the cool end. Locate the tank out of direct sunlight to avoid overheating.
A Heat Mat should provide ample heating for Western Hognose enclosure, though if you find temperatures are not right, then you could use a low wattage red bulb controlled by a thermostat.
NB With all heating equipment, please be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
There are a variety of substrates that can be used, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Beech chips are the most popular substrate, though may cause problems if your snake accidentally ingests it. Herbi Veg or Repti Maize are a safer alternative since they can be "passed through" if ingestion occurs.
Some people prefer to use Reptile Carpet, which is a coarse, felt-like, material which eliminates any ingestion problems though is not a very natural substrate and makes it impossible for your Western Hognose to burrow into the substrate.
Of course, any ingestion problems can be avoided if you feed your Western Hognose in a separate, substrate-free, tub or enclosure.
Water must be provided at all times.
In the wild, Western Hognoses eat a variety of prey including amphibians, small rodents and lizards, though in captivity a Hognose will thrive on just a diet of mice (of appropriate size). When young it is best to feed them pinkies but as they get older you can then move on to fluffs, then eventually small mice. You will need to dust the mice with a mineral supplement to make sure Western Hognose gets all the nutrition it needs. We recommend Nutrobal as it contains both Calcium and D3 which aids in the use of the calcium supplement. This is more important for Hognoses since, due to their small size, they will be feeding mostly on immature prey items that don’t have as developed bones or liver as adult prey items. The best way to apply the calcium dust would be to dip the head of the mouse into the powder so it has a dusted cap. This ensures you do not use too much of the supplement.
Western Hognoses are usually very tolerant of being handled as adults, though hatchlings tend to be more nervous and defensive. They may puff up, hiss, and mock strike but with regular gentle handling should calm down after a couple of weeks. Do not handle your Western Hognose in the first week of bringing it home. The move tends to be stressful for it so leave it alone in the first week and then try feeding it the following week. If it feeds normally in the first week, leave it alone for another couple of days to allow it to digest its meal and then you can begin to handle it.
Try to avoid handling your Hognose in an area it can easily escape if you lose control over it. Snakes are notorious escape artists and will disappear down the most impossible places if given the opportunity!
Check the tank daily for faeces and remove them immediately. Wash out the water dishes daily. Place the Hognose in an escape proof container while cleaning the tank. Both the tank and any washable floor coverings should be washed monthly in hot water and mild detergent. Use a Reptile Safe disinfectant to sterilise the tank such as BEA Reptile Disinfectant. Rinse well with hot water and dry thoroughly.
Snakes are notorious escape artists so the vivarium MUST BE SECURE!