Heterodon platirhinos - Latreille, 1801
Eastern Hog-nosed Snake
Other English Common Names: Eastern Hognose Snake, eastern hog-nosed snake
Synonym(s): Heterodon contortrix Stejneger and Barbour, 1917:76
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Heterodon platirhinos Latreille in Sonnini and Latreille, 1801 (TSN 563935)
French Common Names: couleuvre nez plat
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.106140
Element Code: ARADB17020
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Reptiles - Snakes
Image 10862

© Michael Patrikeev

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Reptilia Squamata Colubridae Heterodon
Genus Size: B - Very small genus (2-5 species)
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Concept Reference
Concept Reference: Collins, J. T. 1990. Standard common and current scientific names for North American amphibians and reptiles. 3rd ed. Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles. Herpetological Circular No. 19. 41 pp.
Concept Reference Code: B90COL01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Heterodon platirhinos
Taxonomic Comments: Specific name formerly spelled "platyrhinos"; see Platt (1985) for justification for change.
Conservation Status

NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 02Feb2016
Global Status Last Changed: 30Oct1996
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Reasons: Though undoubtedly local populations have experienced decline or extirpation, the species occurs across a huge range in a variety of habitats.
Nation: United States
National Status: N5 (05Oct1996)
Nation: Canada
National Status: N3 (02Feb2016)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
United States Alabama (S5), Arkansas (S5), Connecticut (S2S3), Delaware (S4), District of Columbia (SH), Florida (SNR), Georgia (S5), Illinois (S5), Indiana (S3), Iowa (S4), Kansas (S4), Kentucky (S5), Louisiana (S3), Maryland (S5), Massachusetts (S4), Michigan (S3S4), Minnesota (S4), Mississippi (S5), Missouri (S5), Nebraska (S4), New Hampshire (S1), New Jersey (S5), New Mexico (SNR), New York (S3), North Carolina (S4S5), Ohio (S4), Oklahoma (S5), Pennsylvania (S3), Rhode Island (S2), South Carolina (SNR), South Dakota (S2), Tennessee (S4), Texas (S5), Virginia (S5), West Virginia (S2), Wisconsin (S3S4)
Canada Ontario (S3)

Other Statuses

Canadian Species at Risk Act (SARA) Schedule 1/Annexe 1 Status: T (05Jun2003)
Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC): Threatened (30Nov2007)
Comments on COSEWIC: Reason for Designation: This species faces several threats, particularly increased mortality and severe habitat fragmentation caused by an expanding road network and increased traffic. The species is mobile for a snake, but this mobility places it at high risk when it encounters roads. The species also suffers from persecution by humans not only because it is a relatively large snake but also because of its complex defensive threats when confronted. In southwest Ontario and south of the Canadian shield, the species has suffered extensive habitat loss from agriculture and rapid increase in housing development. Poaching for the illegal wildlife trade is a growing threat.

Status History: Designated Special Concern in April 1997. Status re-examined and designated Threatened in November 2001 and November 2007.

IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: >2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: The range extends from southern New England through southern Ontario to Minnesota and South Dakota, and south to southern Texas, the Gulf Coast, and southern Florida (Conant and Collins 1991, Ernst and Ernst 2003).

Area of Occupancy: >12,500 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments:  

Number of Occurrences: > 300
Number of Occurrences Comments: This species is represented by hundreds of occurrences (subpopulations).

Population Size: 100,000 to >1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Adult population size is unknown but surely exceeds 100,000. This snake is fairly common in many parts of its range.

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Very many (>125)

Overall Threat Impact: Medium
Overall Threat Impact Comments: No major threats are known. Locally, some populations have declined as a result of conversion of habitat to intensive human uses.

Short-term Trend: Relatively Stable (<=10% change)
Short-term Trend Comments: Extent of occurrence, area of occupancy, number of subpopulations, and population size probably are relatively stable or declining at a rate of less than 10 percent over 10 years or three generations.

Long-term Trend: Decline of <30% to increase of 25%

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Moderately vulnerable

Environmental Specificity: Moderate. Generalist or community with some key requirements scarce.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: Document specific occurrences in conjunction with other biotic field surveys.

Protection Needs: Conservation needs include the following: secure permanent protection for large tracts of suitable habitat through legal means; limit pesticide use in preferred habitat types; educate the public regarding the snake's harmlessness; and control fire ants on certain parcels of important habitat.

Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) The range extends from southern New England through southern Ontario to Minnesota and South Dakota, and south to southern Texas, the Gulf Coast, and southern Florida (Conant and Collins 1991, Ernst and Ernst 2003).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces
Color legend for Distribution Map
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AL, AR, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, VA, WI, WV
Canada ON

Range Map
Note: Range depicted for New World only. The scale of the maps may cause narrow coastal ranges or ranges on small islands not to appear. Not all vagrant or small disjunct occurrences are depicted. For migratory birds, some individuals occur outside of the passage migrant range depicted.

Range Map Compilers: NatureServe, 2005

U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
CT Fairfield (09001), Hartford (09003), Litchfield (09005), Middlesex (09007), New Haven (09009), New London (09011), Tolland (09013), Windham (09015)
IA Louisa (19115), Muscatine (19139)
KS Edwards (20047), Ellis (20051), Hamilton (20075), Reno (20155), Sedgwick (20173), Seward (20175)
MN Aitkin (27001), Anoka (27003), Carver (27019), Cass (27021), Chisago (27025), Clay (27027), Crow Wing (27035), Dakota (27037), Fillmore (27045)*, Goodhue (27049), Hennepin (27053), Houston (27055), Hubbard (27057), Isanti (27059), Mille Lacs (27095), Morrison (27097), Olmsted (27109), Pine (27115), Ramsey (27123), Scott (27139), Todd (27153), Wabasha (27157), Wadena (27159), Washington (27163), Winona (27169), Wright (27171)*
MS Warren (28149)*
NH Hillsborough (33011), Merrimack (33013), Rockingham (33015), Strafford (33017)*
OH Adams (39001), Athens (39009)*, Clermont (39025), Erie (39043), Hamilton (39061), Lucas (39095), Morgan (39115)*, Muskingum (39119), Perry (39127)*, Scioto (39145)
PA Allegheny (42003)*, Armstrong (42005)*, Bedford (42009), Berks (42011)*, Blair (42013)*, Bucks (42017)*, Cambria (42021)*, Carbon (42025), Centre (42027), Chester (42029)*, Clearfield (42033), Columbia (42037), Cumberland (42041)*, Dauphin (42043), Erie (42049)*, Fayette (42051), Franklin (42055), Fulton (42057), Huntingdon (42061)*, Indiana (42063)*, Luzerne (42079), Montgomery (42091)*, Northampton (42095)*, Perry (42099)*, Pike (42103)*, Schuylkill (42107), Somerset (42111)*, Union (42119)*, Wyoming (42131)*
RI Kent (44003)*, Providence (44007), Washington (44009)
SD Clay (46027), Union (46127), Yankton (46135)
WV Berkeley (54003)*, Boone (54005)*, Cabell (54011)*, Greenbrier (54025)*, Hardy (54031)*, Jackson (54035)*, Jefferson (54037)*, Lincoln (54043)*, Mason (54053)*, Mercer (54055)*, Morgan (54065), Nicholas (54067)*, Pendleton (54071)*, Ritchie (54085)*, Roane (54087)*, Wayne (54099)*, Wetzel (54103)*, Wirt (54105)*, Wood (54107)*, Wyoming (54109)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
01 Piscataqua-Salmon Falls (01060003)+*, Nashua (01070004)+, Merrimack (01070006)+, Lower Connecticut (01080205)+, Farmington (01080207)+, Blackstone (01090003)+, Narragansett (01090004)+, Pawcatuck-Wood (01090005)+, Quinebaug (01100001)+, Shetucket (01100002)+, Thames (01100003)+*, Quinnipiac (01100004)+, Housatonic (01100005)+, Saugatuck (01100006)+
02 Middle Delaware-Mongaup-Brodhead (02040104)+*, Middle Delaware-Musconetcong (02040105)+*, Lehigh (02040106)+, Schuylkill (02040203)+, Upper Susquehanna-Tunkhannock (02050106)+*, Upper Susquehanna-Lackawanna (02050107)+, Upper West Branch Susquehanna (02050201)+, Bald Eagle (02050204)+, Lower Susquehanna-Penns (02050301)+*, Upper Juniata (02050302)+, Raystown (02050303)+, Lower Juniata (02050304)+, Lower Susquehanna-Swatara (02050305)+, South Branch Potomac (02070001)+*, Cacapon-Town (02070003)+, Conococheague-Opequon (02070004)+, Shenandoah (02070007)+*
04 Lower Maumee (04100009)+, Cedar-Portage (04100010)+, Lake Erie (04120200)+*
05 Middle Allegheny-Redbank (05010006)+*, Lower Allegheny (05010009)+*, Lower Monongahela (05020005)+, Youghiogheny (05020006)+*, Little Muskingum-Middle Island (05030201)+*, Upper Ohio-Shade (05030202)+*, Little Kanawha (05030203)+*, Hocking (05030204)+*, Wills (05040005)+, Middle New (05050002)+*, Greenbrier (05050003)+*, Gauley (05050005)+*, Lower Kanawha (05050008)+*, Coal (05050009)+*, Lower Scioto (05060002)+, Upper Guyandotte (05070101)+, Lower Guyandotte (05070102)+*, Lower Great Miami (05080002)+, Raccoon-Symmes (05090101)+*, Twelvepole (05090102)+*, Ohio Brush-Whiteoak (05090201)+, Little Miami (05090202)+
07 Leech Lake (07010102)+, Elk-Nokasippi (07010104)+, Pine (07010105)+, Crow Wing (07010106)+, Redeye (07010107)+*, Long Prairie (07010108)+, Platte-Spunk (07010201)+, Clearwater-Elk (07010203)+*, Crow (07010204)+*, Twin Cities (07010206)+, Rum (07010207)+, Lower Minnesota (07020012)+, Upper St. Croix (07030001)+, Kettle (07030003)+, Snake (07030004)+, Lower St. Croix (07030005)+, Rush-Vermillion (07040001)+, Cannon (07040002)+, Buffalo-Whitewater (07040003)+, Zumbro (07040004)+, La Crosse-Pine (07040006)+*, Root (07040008)+, Coon-Yellow (07060001)+, Upper Iowa (07060002)+*, Copperas-Duck (07080101)+
08 Lower Yazoo (08030208)+*, Lower Big Black (08060202)+*
09 Eastern Wild Rice (09020108)+
10 Lewis and Clark Lake (10170101)+, Vermillion (10170102)+, Lower Big Sioux (10170203)+, Upper Saline (10260009)+
11 Middle Arkansas-Lake Mckinney (11030001)+, Coon-Pickerel (11030004)+, Gar-Peace (11030010)+, Middle Arkansas-Slate (11030013)+, Upper Cimarron-Liberal (11040006)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
Reproduction Comments: Lays clutch of 4-61 eggs, May-August (earlier in south than in north). Eggs hatch in 39-65 days. Usually sexually mature in 2nd year.
Ecology Comments: Population density estimated at about 1-2/ha in pasture in Kansas, about half this density in ungrazed area; mean dis- tance between successive captures was 682 and 952 ft in two areas (Platt 1969).

In Arkansas, individuals had large, well-defined home ranges of 21-73 ha (average 50 ha, n = 8), which for individuals remained similar in size and location from year to year (Plummer and Mills 2000). Movements of translocated snakes tended to be more erratic and unidirectional, and translocated snakes exhibited reduced survival.

Habitat Type: Terrestrial
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Palustrine Habitat(s): Riparian
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Cropland/hedgerow, Grassland/herbaceous, Old field, Woodland - Conifer, Woodland - Hardwood, Woodland - Mixed
Special Habitat Factors: Burrowing in or using soil, Fallen log/debris
Habitat Comments: Habitats include openly wooded upland hills, forest edges, fields, woodland meadows, prairies, forest-grassland ecotones, sand plains, barrier islands, fire-managed pinelands, river valleys, riparian zones, and various other habitats with loose soils and amphibian prey. This snake crawls on the surface and burrows into soil. It overwinters in burrows (made by mammal or self-dug) or under rocks of talus slopes. Eggs are laid in nests a few inches below the ground surface (Platt 1969) or in rotting wood (DeGraaf and Rudis 1983).
Adult Food Habits: Carnivore
Immature Food Habits: Carnivore
Food Comments: Eats mainly amphibians, especially toads (Platt 1969). Also various other kinds of small vertebrates, and rarely invertebrates.
Adult Phenology: Crepuscular, Diurnal, Hibernates/aestivates
Immature Phenology: Crepuscular, Diurnal, Hibernates/aestivates
Phenology Comments: Active from late April to October or November in Kansas and Wisconsin (Vogt 1981, Collins 1982). May be active during warm weather during cold season (Minton 1972).
Length: 116 centimeters
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
Management Summary
Biological Research Needs: Determine if any populations that are sympatric with fire ants have declined.
Population/Occurrence Delineation
Group Name: Medium And Large Colubrid Snakes

Use Class: Not applicable
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Occurrences are based on evidence of historical presence, or current and likely recurring presence, at a given location. Such evidence minimally includes collection or reliable observation and documentation of one or more individuals (including eggs) in or near appropriate habitat where the species is presumed to be established and breeding.
Separation Barriers: Busy highway or highway with obstructions such that snakes rarely if ever cross successfully; major river, lake, pond, or deep marsh (this barrier pertains only to upland species and does not apply to aquatic or wetland snakes); densely urbanized area dominated by buildings and pavement.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 1 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Justification: Available information on movements of colubrid snakes is limited to a small minority of species. These data indicate that nearly all species have home ranges smaller or much smaller than 25 ha (e.g., less than 3 ha, Pituophis catenifer in California, Rodriguez-Robles 2003), with some up to about 75 ha (Heterodon platirhinos, average 50 ha, Plummer and Mills 2000), and the largest up to 225 ha in the biggest colubrids (Drymarchon, summer mean 50-100 ha, USFWS 1998).

Radiotelemetry data for Pantherophis indicate that residents of hibernacula that are 1-2 km apart (with suitable intervening habitat) probably interbreed (Prior et al. 1997, Blouin-Demers and Weatherhead 2002). However, "evidence of genetic structure even over short distances (e.g., 2-20 km) implies that gene flow among rat snake populations can be easily disrupted" (Prior et al. 1997). Loughheed et al. (1999) found evidence of substantial genetic exchange among local hibernacula (< 6 km apart), but gene flow over distances of 10s of km appears to be substantially less. Based on extensive radio-tracking data, Blouin-Demers and Weatherhead (2002) found that home range size of Pantherophis averaged 18.5 ha and ranged up to 93 ha; based on the most mobile individuals, Pantherophis from hibernacula up to 8 km apart can come together for mating. Pantherophis and probably other colubrids exhibit high fidelity to hibernacula and shift even to nearby sites only rarely (Prior et al. 2001).

Many of the several studies that report small home ranges for colubrids did not employ methods (e.g., radio telemetry) suitable for detecting full annual or multi-annual home range size, dispersal, or other long-distance movements, so these may have yielded underestimates of home ranges or activity areas.

At least some colubrids, including medium-sized species such as garter snakes, not uncommonly move between areas up to a few kilometers apart, and several species make extensive movements of up to several kilometers, so separation distances of 1-2 km for suitable habitat are too small for medium-sized and large colubrids.

A separation distance of 10 km for suitable habitat was selected as most appropriate for snakes assigned to this Specs Group because it seems generally unlikely that two locations separated by less than 10 km of suitable habitat would represent distinct occurrences.

For the purposes of these occurrence specifications, upland habitat is regarded as unsuitable habitat for aquatic and wetland snakes. For upland snakes, shallow or patchy wetlands are treated as unsuitable habitat whereas large deepwater habitats (subjective determination) are barriers.

Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): .5 km
Date: 12Feb2013
Author: Hammerson, G.
Notes: Separation distance for suitable habitat was changed from 5 km to 10 km based on comments from Dale Jackson (12 Feb 2013).
Population/Occurrence Viability
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 28Jan2014
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Jackson, D. R. (2014); Hammerson, G. (2006)
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 01Sep2006
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Hammerson, G.

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