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.

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