Hog-nosed Snake Research

Eastern Hog-nosed Snake Research

A new population of Eastern Hog-nosed snakes was reported near Goderich in 2011. This was an exciting discovery, as Hog-nosed snakes are currently listed as a Threatened species in both Ontario and Canada, and because this is the only known population in Huron County.

The Eastern Hog-nosed Snake is a harmless, non-venomous snake with a flair for drama and taste for toads. When it feels threatened, this snake will flatten its head and neck like a cobra, often hissing and mock-striking. It may then flip on its back to play dead. Despite this impressive performance, this snake is completely harmless to humans and pets. Hog-nosed snakes come in many colours but are often grey, yellow, brown, olive, or black, sometimes with large rectangular spots. Alternatively, they may lack spots and appear as one solid colour. All have a characteristic upturned snout that gives them their name.

The Huron Stewardship Council has been working to learn more about this snake, and has collaborated with Laurentian University on a research project. The main goals of the project were to identify the threats to Eastern Hog-nosed Snakes and their habitat, to determine the size of the population, and to better understand habitat use and movement of these snakes. These efforts will assist with recovery and protection of the species and their habitat.

We used radio telemetry as a way to track the movement of these snakes. This method uses an antenna to detect a signal emitted by a transmitter implanted into each snake. We also conducted searches to better understand the size and distribution of the population. If you suspect that you have seen a Hog-nosed Snake, please call us immediately.

Photos: J. Mullen

Identification Tips

All Eastern Hog-nosed snakes have an upturned snout. Juvenile snakes have a strong blotchy pattern (shown at right), while adults from this population tend to be a solid black, grey, or olive colour. Photo: J. Mullen.

Meet the Researcher

Allie Gallon

Lead Researcher, MSc. Candidate

Hello hello! Allie Gallon here, feel free to call me the snake gal though! I am a Master's student from Laurentian University. As a girl born, raised, and worked on the prairies all her life, studying and working in Ontario was a brand-new experience for me! I landed my first job working with snakes back in 2013, and have been in awe of them ever since. A lot of the fear and misunderstanding of snakes is what has driven me to study them, so I can pass on my knowledge and help dispel the fear!

Newsletter: Spring 2019

We had a fantastic start to this project, and are very excited to be back again for another season! This year is particularly exciting because Allie Gallon, a Masters student from Laurentian University, will be taking the reins. Marcus and Cristen (technicians from 2018) will also be back to help with field work. Similar to last year, we will be surveying for Eastern Hog-nosed snakes and their habitat along the beach and Maitland River, within the inlet marina, near the airport, and within the surrounding area.

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