Trip Details

Herper: Matt Ricklefs

Location: Linn County

Time: About 4:00 pm

Temp/Conditions: 70 - 75 degrees. A little windy, mostly sunny

After finding a couple small Garter Snakes along some railroad tracks going through a small sand prairie, I came across two snake eggs. They were somewhat old and it was hard to tell whether they had hatched or were dug up. From the size of them I would guess they were Bullsnake eggs as I have found them in the area. After walking a little further, I came across a pile of cement slabs and other metal debris that also had been overgrown with weeds and other plants from the area. I had noticed this earlier in the spring and it looked very snakey but had not produced anything to that point.

Out of the corner of my eye an outline materialized out of the debris. At first I thought Fox snake or maybe Water Snake as there is a creek nearby and I have found both species in the area. After a couple of seconds I followed the pattern to the head and to my great excitement I had finally found my first Eastern Hognose Snake. It was purely coincidental that I happened to be out that day and I was very glad I decided to go. I quickly turned on my camcorder and caught only a fragment of it in the setting I had found it. When it started to move, so did I.

I grabbed it and it was already displaying its "hood". It kept this mouth fully opened act for a good ten minutes. I could clearly see the enlarged rear teeth in its mouth. It lunged many times and defecated on my shoe, but, in typical Hognose fashion, the lunges never made contact. I sat down and got as much footage as I could after a very frenzied start.

I must say the beginning audio of my find was quite silly as I came across like a little kid finding his first snake ever. But that’s OK, it’s all about keeping that kind of excitement you felt when you found your first snakes as a child even when you are older. Anyway, after about ten minutes it went into its death throes. It did a very convincing job and gave a textbook example of Hognose behavior. You can check out the video of the feigning death behavior below. After getting a decent amount of footage and stills, I put it back where I found it and let it go on its way.

Here is some video of the Hognose feigning death.

After the summer hiatus, this was a very welcome find and I have been eager to post this.

Until next time, good herpin’!!

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