Western Hognose Snake – Profile, Food, Care, Facts
Western hognose snakes could be among the most underrated snake pets. However, these snakes can make great pets for any snake pet enthusiast.
There is much you can like about these snake pets. Their goofy grin, upturned nose, and the remarkable way these snakes play dead like puppies make them cute and adorable.
But why are the western hognose snakes some of the best snake pets to keep? Do they have unique characteristics and features from other pet snakes? Plus, how should you take care of a western hognose snake once you bring it home?
This guide provides answers to all these questions about hognose snakes.
Western hognose snakes have a distinctive appearance thanks to their remarkably upturned and pointed snout. These snakes also have dark blotches that extend down their yellowish and pale brown back, starting from the behind of their heads to their tails.
Western hognose snakes also have alternating marks on their sides. Their bellies are heavily pigmented. They have a distinctive pigmentation under their tails.
Western hognose snakes have an elaborate bluff behavior of all the snake species in the world. They flatten the skin on their neck when under threat. These snakes then take deep breaths, inflating their bodies dramatically. These snakes also release air with a hissing noise.
Western hognose snakes rarely bite as a way of self-defense. A western hognose snake may strike its attacker occasionally. Nonetheless, this snake usually avoids confrontation with its attackers by pretending to be dead.
Western hognose snakes are harmless. Their natural habitats extend from the central US and spread to southern Canada.
Western hognose snakes can live between 10 to 20 years in the wild. However, these snakes can live for almost 20 years in human captivity.
Wild western hognose snakes have a shorter lifespan since they are constantly under threat of predators like foxes, feral cats, and other snakes that feed on their fellow snake species.
General Care and Requirements
Keeping a western hognose snake isn’t a complicated process. Western hognose snakes have minimal care requirements, unlike most pet snakes. This section of this guide shall look at the general care and conditions for western hognose snakes.
Western hognose snakes thrive in warmer temperatures. These snakes need at least 85 to 92 degrees Fahrenheit during the daytime. These snakes are also reptiles like other snake species.
Therefore, your western hognose snake pet needs a bled of warmer and cooler temperatures to regulate its body temperature. Ensure your snake’s cage has warmer temperatures of between 90 to 92 degrees Fahrenheit. The other side of your snake’s cage should have cooler temperatures of about 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Your western hognose can develop severe health problems if you keep it in spaces with inadequate temperatures. Your pet snake could, for instance, develop respiratory problems due to poor temperature conditions at its cage. You can use a heat mat, busking spot bulb, or a ceramic heater to maintain adequate temperatures in your pet snake’s cage.
Western hognose snakes thrive well in dry conditions. The best humidity levels for these snake pets should be about 30 to 50 % degrees. Place a water dish in your pet’s cage to provide it with the humidity it needs for its survival and development. Keep the water dish on the unheated part of the cage to avoid excess humidity.
Western hognose snakes prefer higher humidity levels of about 50 to 60 %, especially when these snakes are ready for shedding. Place the water dish on the warmer side of the cage to boost humidity levels in the cage.
You can also give your snake pet a humid hide, whereby you place a moist hide in its cage. The hide, in this case, should contain sphagnum moss and water to provide your pet snake with the humidity levels it needs. Get a pressure sprayer to spray into the snake pet’s cage whenever you want to provide your snake pet with a convenient humidity boost.
– Cage Size
Unlike other perching snake pets like corn snakes, western hognose snakes love hiding under the rocks. Therefore, the best cage for your western hognose snake should provide ample spaces whereby your pet can hide whenever it feels the need to hide. The best cage size for western hognose hatchlings should be at least 10 feet wide.
Adult western hognose snakes that measure over 10 feet should live in cages measuring 20 feet and above. Giant western hognose snakes should live in cages measuring 50 feet in width. The extra space provides a basking area for your pet snake.
Western hognose snake pets don’t need UV lighting, unlike most pet snakes. These snakes are diurnal, and they thrive well in cages that provide 14 to 16 hours of lighting daily. You can use bulbs to offer sufficient lighting into your pet snake’s cage.
However, ensure the bulbs don’t produce heat that exceeds more than 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Excess heat can ruin your pet snake’s health making it vulnerable to dehydration and other severe health conditions.
Food and Nutrition
Western hognose snakes are strictly carnivores. Wild western hognose snakes feed on rodents, including amphibians, lizards, and tree frogs. Larger western hognose snakes also prey on larger rodents and birds. However, there are many food items that you can consider adding to your pet snake’s diet to support its growth and development.
Due to their predatory nature, both wild and domesticated western hognose snakes feed on a diet consisting of rodents, frogs, and lizards. Larger wild western hognose snakes occasionally feed on other snakes. But while in captivity, these snakes are less likely to feed on a diet that consists of rodents, frogs, and other smaller creatures.
The advantage of western hognose snakes is that they don’t eat plenty of food. An adult western hognose snake can eat once per week. Baby western hognose snakes need to eat twice or thrice a week.
These snakes don’t require food items that are bigger than their actual size. Thus, baby western hognose snakes should only feed on smaller food items such as small mice.
Avoid handling your western hognose snake before it has its meal since it may become stressful, ultimately lowering its appetite. Moreover, avoid handling your snake pet after it has eaten its meals since it needs time to digest the meal.
Give your pet snake at least a day to digest the meal after feeding. Western hognose snakes digest their meals slowly like other snake species, and hence they need time to digest food items fully.
You can opt for frozen-thawed rodents if you can’t manage to feed your pet snake with live rodents. Frozen-thawed rodents are popular food choices for snake pet owners.
Live rodents such as mice are difficult to find, and hence they aren’t readily available for your pet snake. But you can occasionally feed your snake pet with a live rodent if you manage to get one.
Frozen-thawed rodents are easier to find, unlike their live counterparts. Besides, frozen-thawed rodents don’t pose a health risk to your snake pet. Western hognose snakes rarely show reluctance with frozen-thawed rodents.
– Supplement and Vitamins
Western hognose snakes are obligate carnivores. Wild western hognose snakes get their nutrition from their animal-based diet. However, these snakes are less likely to meet their nutritional needs while in captivity.
Studies show that western hognose snakes that are in captivity are more likely to suffer from vitamin deficiency. The lack of these crucial vitamins, such as vitamin D, can have severe health effects on your snake pet.
Hence, western hognose snakes in captivity have a higher risk of developing a nutrient deficiency in the long run. Thus it helps to feed your pet snake with various supplements to help complements its everyday diet.
Growing hognose snakes should need multivitamins to promote their growth. These multivitamins should be mixed with calcium powder to stimulate growth even further. Adult western hognose snakes should also get a balanced mixture of multivitamins and calcium supplements in their diet.
Humidity is crucial for the survival of western hognose skins. These snakes thrive well under humidity levels of between 30% and 50%. Your snake pet needs to live in environments that provide correct humidity levels. Otherwise, your pet will suffer from respiratory problems or experience abnormal shedding.
The best way to maintain correct humidity levels in your snake pet’s cage is by misting the cage regularly with a spray bottle. Extra misting is essential, especially when the snake shows signs of shedding its skin.
Most snake pet lovers have been successfully breeding western hognose snakes for years. Female western hognose snakes reach breeding age at the age of two years, while their male counterparts reach sexual maturity at one year.
Your female hognose snake will take between 28 to 45 days to lay eggs after mating. The eggs will need about 50 to 60 days to hatch depending on the hatching temperature, which needs to be around 78 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit.
Keep the female in a separate cage during the hatching process, whereby it can take care of its eggs and the hatchlings after the hatching process.
The western hognose snake is fast becoming a popular snake pet choice due to its low-maintenance requirements and small size. The harmless nature of this snake makes it an excellent pet to have in your home. If you are a pet snake lover, a western hognose snake could be your best pet snake.