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WESTERN HOGNOSE SNAKE

hog nose male.jpg


Reptile Rapture, ?6308 Monona Dr, Monona WI 53516?
608-221-0094, www.reptilerapture.net

WESTERN HOGNOSE SNAKE Caresheet

Common Name: Hognose
Scientific Name: Heterodon nasicus
Origin: Central US extending into Mexico
Size: 2-3 feet, males being smaller
Lifespan: 18 years

You will find many ways on the internet on "how to" take care of this animal. This care sheet is showing the way we found works best for us from our many years of experience of caring for this species.

HOUSING
Hognose snake babies can start out in enclosures as small as 10 gallons. At around a year old, you can increase the size. There are several kinds of enclosures that work for hognose snakes, e.g., glass aquariums and any of the commercially available plastic-type reptile cages. For a yearling, step up to an enclosure that is at least 30" x 12" inches (like Zilla critter cage 20 Long). Multiple adults can be kept together, just make sure you separate them for feeding so they don't fight over food. Hognose snakes will feel more secure if there is a place to hide on the cool side and the warm side of the enclosure.

Like all snakes. they are also skilled escape artists. It's extremely important that your top is clipped or locked to the tank to prevent them from getting out. Especially as babies, they can squeeze out of the smallest spots.

You can use many types of bedding for your snake. Zoo Med aspen is the most popular but you could also use Zoo med eco earth. Hogs like to burrow, so give them a good inch or two. Spot clean the bedding whenever they defecate. You should only need to clean the whole thing out about once a month. Disinfect the enclosure and change the bedding at that time. Zoo Med wipe out or vinegar and water both work good for cage cleaning.


LIGHTING AND HEATING
Being that they are from a temperate climate, hogs don't need it to be super hot. Like all reptiles, they are dependent on external thermoregulation to control their body temperature. This essentially means you need to provide a hot and a cool side to your enclosure. All the lighting and heat elements should be on one side and the other will then be the cool side. Your corn can move back and forth between the different temperatures depending on its needs. The hot side should be at 85-90 degrees. Put one hide there and another hide on the cooler side. The cool side can be between 75-80 degrees. At night it can drop down to 72 ambient temperature. To get your temps right, it's a good idea to use a heat light and an under tank heat pad also. The heat pads are usually placed on the hot side with a hide over it. We recommend a Zoo Med heat mat or Exo Terra heat pad that stays on 24/7 to give them a little bit of supplemental heat during the night. Both of these are placed on the outside underneath the enclosure. You want a heat pad that only covers half the tank (or less). The heat light should be housed in a good quality light dome like Exo Terra and Flukers that has a ceramic housing to tolerate high heat and an on/off switch.

Use a good quality temperature gauge too, like Zoo Meds digital temp gauge or Exo Terras Thermometer. Don't guess at it. You can also use a rheostat and/or timers to control your heat source. We do not recommend the use of hot rocks. They have a tendency to heat unevenly over too small an area and can cause serious burns.


HUMIDITY
Keep a non-porous water bowl in with your snake and make sure they always have clean water. Exo Terras water bowls or Flukers water bowls are good decorative choices or a good ceramic crock dish. Scrub the bowl at least once a week to keep bacteria slime from building up. Your hognose is from a semi arid environment and shouldn't need any supplemental humidity.


FEEDING
Do not handle your hognose for several hours before you are going to feed it. You can feed in the enclosure or in a separate feeding tub. Most captive bred hognose snake will readily take a rodent once a week. An appropriately sized meal is one that produces a slight bulge in the snakes girth after it eats it. Wild hognose snakes favorite food are toads and frogs. Do not feed these to your captive bred hognose. If they get hooked on these, it can be very difficult to get them to eat rodents again.

When buying a baby hognose, make sure you find out if it is an established feeder and what it has been eating.

Do not handle your snake for at least 24 hours after it has eaten. Snakes in general tend not to eat when they are in shed. Just wait to feed until it sheds.


TEMPERAMENT
Hognose snakes are becoming more and more popular and are available in a greater variety of colors than ever before. They are generally docile and easy to care for. However they do have an impressive array of bluffing behaviors that can be intimidating to new snake owners. They have an impressive hiss, they can flatten there bodies to appear larger and of course the famous "I'm dead" pose. If you are intimidated by your hogs bluffs, get yourself a snake hook. Hook your snake out of its enclosure when you want to hold it. Check out these hooks: Exo Terra collapsible hook. If you don't have a hook and are still worried about picking up your snake, don't come at him from the front. Reach around and pick your snake up from behind. That way your hand is not coming at its face.

When holding your pet, always remember to support its body. Once a snake realizes that you will not hurt it, it will relax and begin to explore in your hands. Give your pet time to get used to you. Avoid touching the top of your new snake's head. Unless it knows and trusts you, touching the top of  its head will cause the snake to jerk back away. The fast movement is called being "head shy" and tends to scare a lot of new snake owners. Most hognoses' will get over it with gentle handling.

Give your snake at least a day to settle in to its new home before handling. Start slow and gradually increase the amount of time you have it out. Remember your new pet's life is in your hands. So please take care of it properly.