is the hognose snake a good beginner pet?
Snake Care Guides

Hognose Snake Care Guide, Information, and Facts

Hognose snakes are a group of Colubrid species, Colubrids being the most common snake family. They’re related to other popular pets like corn snakes and gopher snakes, although hognoses don’t necessarily share the same habitat. So, why should you have one as a pet?

Hognose snakes are friendly and easy to handle. They have a defense mechanism that is unique among pet snakes. They don’t grow too big, so they make good beginner pet snakes. They’re cheap to keep, although snakes do require more upkeep than other pets.

We’ve outlined everything you need to know about caring for hognose snakes, plus some interesting facts. Let’s start by finding out which species are called ‘hognose’ snakes, and why.

Hognose Pet Care Guide for Beginners

Hognose snakes are a group of snake species, each of which has an upturned snout. There are three main genera (big groups of species) that are considered hognose snakes.

These are as follows:

  • This group is common across the United States, both east and west.
  • This group is specific to Madagascar, home of lemurs.
  • This group is from across South America.

Each of these three snake groups are good pets. Heterodon snakes can also be called ‘blow snake’ or ‘hissing adder,’ because of their behavior when threatened. There are two key ways to tell that you’re dealing with a hognose snake.

The first is the nose, which from a certain angle, looks exactly like a pig’s snout. It’s completely flat and curves up in a smooth line from the underside of their body up to their eye level.

What’s the point of having an upturned nose? For digging. Hognoses like to burrow, both for protection and for hunting. In response to a predator, a hognose might hide in the undergrowth or loose soil by quickly burrowing down. Coupled with their coloration and pattern, this makes them hard for any predator to find.

It also helps them hunt. American hognose snakes will dig in the dirt to try and find frogs and toads, which are a favorite food of theirs. Some species (particularly those in the Leiheterodon genus) also dig for lizard eggs using their snout. Hognose snakes are also more stout than other pet snakes their size. Their body is quite broad and tall for a snake of their size.

They’re also rear-fanged, which means what you think it means. Instead of having two hollow fangs at the front of their mouth, they have two grooved fangs further back in their mouth. Rear-fanged snakes are less venomous, which holds true for hognose snakes.

Western Hognose Snakes vs. Eastern Hognose Snakes

These are the two most common species you’ll find in pet shops.

They’re both members of the Heterodon genus, and they both make great pets. The main difference you’ll see between the two is concerning coloration.

Snake Colors, Pattern, and Temperament
Western Hognose Light brown color with darker brown spots along their body. More prominent nose than the eastern hognose.
Eastern Hognose Darker brown color with lighter stripes across their body. More aggressive than the western hognose. More likely to hiss or feign a strike.

The western hognose snake would make the better starter pet due to its calmer temperament.

Western Hognose Snake Morphs

Western hognoses are the most common, and like all common pet snakes, there are many more morphs to choose from. ‘Morphs’ refers to the different colors and patterns of a snake.

Albinos are an excellent example, although they’re a creamy orange color rather than pure white. They also have red eyes.

Western Hognose Snake Morphs

Apart from albinos, you can find:

  • Hypomelanistic hognose snakes, which are like albino snakes, but with some darker pigmentation still left. They’re a warm orange color.
  • Axanthic hognose snakes, which are like the opposite of hypomelanistic snakes. Their skin is white, and they have slate grey markings. These snakes are unable to make the yellow pigment in their scales, which leads to their color.
  • Ghost hognose snakes, which are grey, black, and white instead of colorful.
  • Albino ghost snakes, a crossbreed between a ghost and albino pair. These are a light tan color with a checkerboard pattern in pastel pink.
  • Snow hognose snakes, which are a crossbreed between an albino and axanthic pair. These snakes are white from head to tail, with light pink markings along their body.

The more exotic the morph, the higher the cost of your snake will be. In all other ways, the snake will be the same. Bear in mind that if you want to breed hognose snakes, the morph may not necessarily live on in their offspring as the genetics are incredibly complex.

Other Hognose Snake Species

The most common are western hognoses, which are the ones you’re going to find in the majority of pet shops. However, you can also find other unusual species.

Let’s take a look at some of the different types:

  • Southern hognose snakes are much like western and eastern hognoses. They’re found in the southeast, i.e., Florida, North Carolina, etc., although they’re classed as a vulnerable species.
  • Giant hognose or Leioheterodon madagascariensis. These are hognoses from the African island of Madagascar. They grow up to six feet and are about the width of your forearm.
  • Leioheterodon modestus. A smaller Madagascan hognose, these snakes are a light blond or brown color and reach about four feet.
  • Lystrophis pulcher, a South American hognose snake. These snakes are tri-colored and bright and are from the rainforests of Bolivia. These are the smallest hognoses, rarely getting longer than two feet in length.

How Big Do Hognose Snakes Get?

Hognose snakes stand out among snakes because the males and females are quite different.

How big will a hognose snake grow? If you keep a female as a pet, feed them well, and monitor and clean their environment, then they’ll grow to three feet in length. Males, by contrast, will only grow to about a foot and a half to two feet.

Hognose snakes do have heavy bodies, though. They max out at about 300 to 350g, which is between 10 and 12oz. Compare that to the weight of a fully-grown corn snake, which is about three times as much, and the weight of a ball python which is more still. Fully mature, female ball pythons can reach 70oz.

Whether you get a male or female, then, hognose snakes don’t get that big. If you can, go to a pet store and compare three feet hognoses to gopher snakes or ball pythons, which regularly grow between five and seven feet, and you’ll see what we mean. The fact that they don’t grow so big means that they’re a great starter snake. Plus, there’s the fact that they’re well-behaved.

How Long Do Hognose Snakes Live?

Hognoses live up to twenty years or more in captivity, if well cared-for. They require a suitable environment and appropriate food to reach their maximum life-span. In the wild, they’re more likely to live for eight to ten years because of predation, environmental conditions, parasites or a combination of multiple factors.

This is why you have to think about the real cost of owning a snake. If you’re buying one in good faith, the idea should be that you’re going to look after them until they pass away naturally.

That’s twenty years of time, effort and money that you’ll have to commit to putting in. If you’re not prepared for that, you’re not prepared to own a snake as a pet.

Hognose Snake Behavior and Temperament

Hognose snakes make great pets because they’re cool, calm and collected. They don’t get threatened easily, and not only that, but they move slowly.

As such, they’re a very forgiving snake for a first time snake owner, especially somebody who might be little nervous handling snakes for the first time. So, when you’re making a purchase, you’ve got nothing to worry about regarding their behavior.

Hognose Snake Personality

Hognoses are generally calm and won’t take a dislike to you unless they’re provoked. The worst you’ll see is that your hognose can get grumpy if you try and handle them when they don’t want you to. Yours might hiss and puff their neck out a little, indicating that they’re unhappy and threatened. Once they’re used to you, though, this won’t happen.

Hognoses are also active during the daytime, unlike many other pet snakes. The scientific term for this is ‘diurnal,’ which is the opposite of nocturnal. This means that you’ll be interacting with your snake a lot more than you would if you had another species as a pet. They’re also curious, so yours might enjoy being handled and outside of their enclosure quite a lot.

are hognose snakes venomous to humans?

That being said, snakes are like any other pet, and each can have their own personality. Plus, you have to let them get used to you before you try handling them.

Try this approach:

  • Put your hand in their enclosure. Let your hognose sniff at your hand or fingers. You’ll notice their tongue flicking, which is one of the ways they can detect chemicals in the air.
  • If they display threatened behavior—coiling up, feigning strikes or hissing—leave them be. Try them again the next day.
  • If they don’t display these behaviors, start by touching/stroking the middle of their body. Snakes don’t like being touched on their tail tips or head unless they’re comfortable with you.
  • If they’re still comfortable, try lifting them gently but confidently from their enclosure. Again, gauge their reaction.

If at any point your hognose is unhappy, leave them be and try another time. If they’re still unhappy after three days, leave them for a week or so and try again then.

Bear in mind that the time before they shed, and the times just before and after they eat are bad times to handle them that can provoke adverse reactions.

Hognose Snake Behavior In the Wild

Hognose snakes display a unique kind of behavior among snakes. They’re known to play dead if they can’t threaten a would-be predator. The first thing they’ll try is hissing and inflating the skin around their neck.

This is a kind of imitation. They’re trying to look like a cobra, which might scare away predators that are a danger to them. They’ll also try striking, but they rarely bite. They’re normally pretending.

If their hissing and feigned strikes don’t work, hognose snakes will roll onto their back and stop moving. Some will even release a foul smell, as well as fecal matter as if they had died. Others will flop their mouths open and hang their tongues out. Perhaps the most convincing part of the act is that they can purposefully pop a blood vessel in their mouth to simulate internal bleeding.

Believe it or not, but if you roll one onto its front when it’s pretending to be dead, it’ll roll back. Once the snake has been pretending to be dead for a while, it’ll be entirely still. You can prod and poke them, even touch their head, and they won’t strike or move. It’s a convincing act.

Are Hognose Snakes Venomous to Humans?

Hognose snakes are venomous enough to kill frogs and toads, but they are not deadly to humans. Heterodon hognose snakes produce their ‘venom’ in a unique way. Their teeth don’t have grooves running along them, which is the normal way that a snake can administer venom when biting.

According to the Journal of Toxicology, they have a special gland called ‘Duvernoy’s gland’ which creates slightly venomous saliva. Their venom doesn’t even usually kill whatever they’re hunting. It’s just enough to incapacitate them.

That being said, that doesn’t mean that being bitten by one is like being bit by any other household pet. Like all pets, your hognose’s mouth isn’t clean and bacteria-free, even if they brush and floss.

If your hognose pierces your skin, these bacteria can infect the wound. With the venom on top, this can cause painful swelling, and you should see a doctor immediately.

A paper in the journal Toxicon highlighted how a bite caused edema, ecchymoses, lymphadenopathy, mild cellulitis and blisters too. So, you won’t immediately keel over and die, but it’s not a fun experience.

Be careful when handling any snake, both for your sake and for theirs. This should be default practice, whether or not they have a venomous bite.

Hognose Snake Enclosure

Buying the snake itself, you won’t encounter much expense. A regular western hognose snake like you’d find in the wild would be about $100. The more unusual the morph, the more they’ll cost. A light orange/brown albino might cost $300, for example. A snow hognose (entirely white without any coloration or pattern) might cost $600.

The more significant costs come from your setup.

  • Your first significant expense is the vivarium. The cost depends on whether you choose wood, plastic or glass. A wood or glass starter kit might cost $50, whereas a plastic tub from the store down the road might only cost a few dollars. For a male, pick a ten-gallon tank. They’ll be comfortable from hatching to full adult size in a ten-gallon tank. Females, it’s best to give them more room, so twenty gallons is best.
  • As a substrate, you should use aspen fibers. These allow the snake to burrow like they love to do in the wild. The best thing is that aspen fibers will keep their shape, so your snake’s burrow won’t collapse. You can buy big bags of aspen fibers for just a few dollars.
  • You’ll also need a heating system. Keeping a heated pad under one side of the vivarium is common practice for snake owners, but isn’t the best idea for a hognose because they burrow. Heating gives your snake somewhere to bask, and somewhere else to go and cool down if they feel they need to. That way, your snake can regulate their temperature. You can pick a heat lamp or ceramic heater for cheap online.
  • Your hognose snake will also want a hide or two, which you can either purchase or make for yourself. The simplest hides are upturned plant pots, the kind with a large enough hole in the bottom for them to fit through. Snakes don’t get claustrophobic. They prefer tight, and snug hides like these. Have a hide on each side of the enclosure, one warm, one cool. Plant pots cost a matter of dollars.

This setup, plus decorations and landscaping for the inside of the tank, will set you back between $250-$500. However, you also have to factor in ongoing food costs. Western hognoses can eat a rodent-based diet. You can buy bulk pinkies online, the price depending on the amount you buy.

Can Hognose Snakes Live Together?

While hognose snakes are typically docile and forgiving for beginners, that doesn’t mean they get along well with one another.

Can you put two hognose snakes in the same enclosure? Hognose snakes can be cannibalistic. They’re not alone in this, because many snakes can. It doesn’t occur as often in hognoses as it does in—say—king snakes, because hognoses are naturally attracted to smaller prey items like amphibians and rodents. However, it can and does happen.

Even besides that, all male snakes have an inbuilt drive to fight other males in mating season. This is a natural development of the survival of the fittest because it’s the fastest and strongest male that gets to mate.

House two males together, and these instincts might get the best of them, and your two snakes will fight. This is especially the case if the two snakes are different sizes because one can bully the other.

That being said, it all depends on the individual snake. Many owners report that their hognoses happily live together, whereas others think it’s best avoided.

It isn’t worth the worry—you should house your two hognoses separately. You can save money by using a plastic vivarium to house them on, which will save money compared to having just one.

If you haven’t ever owned a snake, start with one rather than getting two. Owning a snake might not be for you, let alone owning two.

Hognose Snake Food and Water Requirements

Hognose snakes, like most North American snakes, eat small rodents and lizards. Some prefer frogs and toads, though. Like all species of snake, they’re entirely carnivorous, so you can’t keep them if you aren’t prepared to feed them real prey. There’s no such thing as a vegan diet for snakes.

can hognose snakes live together?

Hognoses aren’t constrictors. They’re also not particularly venomous. Instead, they hunt for their prey and catch it. It’s a strange sight if you ever get to see a hognose hunting in the wild. They move quite slowly, sniffing the air with their tongue, trying to track down prey.

When they find it, they won’t constrict it. They’ll leap at their prey and eat them live. But aside from when they’re hunting, like we said, they’re quite timid. Whatever you do, though, you should try and recreate your hognose snake’s wild diet when you keep one as a pet.

That means that the majority of food that you feed them should be both amphibian and rodent-based, although mice are more accessible to source and feed to your snake.

Hognose Snake Food Requirements

From the time you get your pet, keep them on the following diet.

  • Feed your hognose snake a small pinkie mouse twice a week when they’re young. It might seem like the pinkie is too big for a hatchling, but your snake will surprise you. They can comfortably and safely eat things one and a half times the size of their head.
  • When your hognose snake grows up, you change their diet plan. Feed them two, maybe three fuzzies every five days.

It’s as easy as that. Most pet snakes only eat rarely, and hognose snakes are no exception. Your snake might not even want to eat this much, and if that’s the case, don’t try and force them. Try them again the next day and see if they’re hungry.

If you like, you can feed a hognose snake:

  • Mice, rats, or anything similar. Only use purchased, not wild-caught (because of parasites).
  • Frogs, toads and similar. Again, don’t use wild-caught food.
  • Quails eggs are the right size.
  • You can also try them on insects since young hognose snakes sometimes eat them in the wild. This probably won’t work, though, as they won’t recognize them as prey.

You can’t feed a hognose snake:

  • Snakes don’t eat vegetables in the wild or captivity.
  • Human food. Don’t offer your hognose snake processed foods, because they don’t contain the right nutritional balance for them.

Hognoses don’t need a varied diet as we do, so feeding them pinkies week in, week out won’t do them any harm.

How to Feed a Hognose Snake

When you purchase a hognose snake, make sure you only buy one that’s already had its first feed. If you plan on feeding it rodents—and that is by far the easiest and cheapest way for you to do so—then you should confirm with the shop/dealer that they’ve had their first feed.

tri color hognose pet snakes

This is because a) a significant proportion of hatchling snakes refuse to eat, and will starve, which is the last thing you want and b) since hognoses aren’t solely rodent-eaters, they might reject mice if they’ve been fed anything else.

When you feed them for the first time, follow these guidelines for the sake of both you and your snake.

  • Moisten a pinkie in water.
  • Offer it to your snake using a pair of tweezers/tongs.
  • Ideally, your snake will smell the smell of prey and will strike at the pinkie.

When your snake is used to you and used to rodents as prey, this is how easy it will be. Eventually, you’ll be able to feed them by hand. Just make sure that you wash your hands after you handle prey. Otherwise, when you go to handle your snake, they might think you’re worth eating.

However, it’s not always simple at first. It’s possible that your hognose snake won’t eat at all.

My Hognose Snake Won’t Eat

Western hognose snakes naturally eat amphibians. This means that they might not recognize what you’re offering them as food. It’s like if somebody offered you a brand-new kind of food you’d never seen—you wouldn’t jump on it straight away either.

Fortunately, there are a few ways you can encourage your snake to eat.

  • Repeatedly tap the prey item against your snake’s head. This will help them smell the prey, and also irritate them, which might encourage them to strike. Once they strike, they’ll eat.
  • If this doesn’t work, you should ‘brain’ the pinkie. Use something like a toothpick to get a little bit of the mouse’s brain matter out of its skull. Your snake stands a higher chance of recognizing this smell like food.
  • Last but not least, one of the best ways to encourage your hognose snake to eat a rodent is through chain feeding. Feed your snake an amphibian, and while they’re finishing up their meal, bop them on the nose repeatedly with a pinkie. Try and get them to catch on to the head of the pinkie before they have a chance to stop eating. Once they start, they can’t stop.

You could also consider rubbing a pinkie on an amphibian, or for best results, in the remains of an opened amphibian so that it smells of their favorite prey. Admittedly, this isn’t for the faint of heart, but this might be the only way you can encourage them onto a rodent-based diet.

Hognose Snake Water Requirements

Hognose snakes need access to water at all times so that when they feel the need to drink, they’re able to. Ideally, you should offer them bottled or filtered water. This reduces the chance of infection by bacteria or by parasites.

You should make sure that your hognose’s water bowl is heavy enough that they can’t tip it over. Hognoses, like other pet snakes, don’t always drink from their bowl. Sometimes they like to crawl through it or sit in it for a while. It’s because they don’t have water bowls in the wild, so they’ll happily treat it as a bath just as much as a water bowl. So, again, make sure they can’t tip it over and mess up their enclosure.

Western hognoses don’t need their environment to be particularly humid. The more humid it is, the more likely they’ll get a respiratory infection. Keep the humidity between 30% and 50% for western hognoses, and between 50% and 60% for eastern and southern hognoses.

Hognose Snake Temperature Requirements

All snakes should be kept at a temperature that suits them. They’re cold-blooded (ectotherms), so they can’t generate their body heat. This means they’re relying on you to create an environment that’s right for them.

For a western hognose snake, they need an enclosure with:

  • A basking zone between 90 and 95 degrees.
  • A cooler zone between 75 and 85 degrees.
  • A nighttime temperature that doesn’t go below 70 degrees.

For most snakes, you could use a heat mat to achieve these temperatures on one side of the enclosure. However, hognoses are natural burrowers. If they burrow down closer to the heat mat, they might get too hot, and even get burned. This isn’t ideal.

You should, therefore, consider using a heat lamp or heat panel at one end of the enclosure to keep them warm. They can regulate their temperature by either burrowing or not burrowing, or by picking one side of the enclosure over the other.

Eastern and southern hognoses need a basking zone that’s a little cooler, between 86 and 88 degrees. If you fail to keep the heat at an adequate level, this can have many effects. It makes them more lethargic (as if it’s winter and they’re hibernating), but can also cause them to eat less than they should, which they naturally do during the colder winter months. If you never raise the temperature, they won’t eat enough.

Use a thermostat and thermometers to keep track of the temperature in their vivarium, as well as a hygrometer to measure the humidity.

Hognose Snake Lighting Requirements

Hognose snakes don’t necessarily require lighting, so long as the light coming into their room is adequate. Temperature is far more critical. However, if you’re keeping them in a room that doesn’t get any/as much sunlight, you might want to consider using a UV light in their enclosure. This will give them simulated sunlight, which many reptiles need to create vitamin D.

That being said, most owners don’t use them, opting instead to keep their snake in a well-lit room with a window. This is probably the better approach because they’ll use environmental cues to know when it’s summer and winter. With proper lighting from outside, they’ll brumate (hibernate) at the same time as they do in the wild.

Do Hognose Snakes Shed?

If you bought a hognose snake not long ago, you might be wondering why it hasn’t shed yet. Hognoses do shed, just not as often as other common snakes like corns. You’re likely to see your hognose snake shed once every four months or so, although the timing depends on a) the snake itself and b) its environment.

Shedding is directly linked to humidity. The more humid their tank is, the easier a time they’ll have shedding their skin. This can encourage them to shed more often. Not only that, but it’s linked to the amount that they eat, too. Hognoses, like all snakes, have to shed every once in a while as they continually grow. Their skin can’t grow with them, so they have to ‘make’ a new one.

can hognose snakes live together?

Hognose Snake Won’t Shed

If your snake is having trouble shedding—for example, if the skin doesn’t come off in one go—allow your hognose to bathe for fifteen minutes or so, and help them when they’re done by letting them crawl through a towel in your hands. This should be enough to pull the remaining skin off. Be careful to check for the tail and eye caps, because these parts often stay stuck without you noticing.

Alternatively, consider including a damp hide in your snake’s enclosure. This is like a regular hide, but full of something like damp sphagnum moss or paper towels. You can make your own using a small plastic tub (e.g. butter) with a hole cut in the top. Your snake will head inside just before their shed to loosen their skin. Just make sure that the hole is big enough for them to fit through comfortably, but that the lid covers most of the opening so that the moisture stays in.

Since hognoses like to burrow, make the layer of moss/towels thick so that they can burrow down into it. They’ll thank you later when their skin peels in one go, rather than in patches.

Hognose Snake Breeding

Put a male and female hognose snake together, and they’ll breed. You don’t have to do anything to encourage them. However, you have to be prepared for what comes after that’s happened.

All you have to do is follow these steps.

  • Identify whether your snakes are male or female using cloacal popping.
  • Only allow your snakes to breed once the female is large enough to pass an egg. This takes two years, and your female should weigh 250g or 8.5oz or more.
  • Pick a time late in the year to start the brumation/hibernation process, the middle of December is a good time. Gradually lower the temperature to below 60 degrees (over a week). This encourages them to hibernate.
  • After six to eight weeks, start gradually raising the temperature to normal, again over a week.

Once they’re done, introduce the two snakes together, and they’ll do the rest. The time between mating and egg laying is usually a month. Place the eggs in an incubation container and keep at a temperature of 80 degrees. Leave the eggs to hatch in their own time.

Here’s some further information on how snakes reproduce.

Hognose Snake Common Health Problems

Hognose snakes are generally healthy, but like any pet, you can cause health issues if you don’t take proper care of them. The main problems you’re likely to encounter are infections and parasites.

1) Hognose Snake Blister Disease

Blister disease is where the snake’s skin develops lesions, which then become infected. This is due to improper conditions in your hognose snake’s enclosure, especially dirty and damp substrate. If you notice that your hognose snake has blisters underneath their scales, take them out of their tank and put them somewhere safe while you disinfect it entirely.

You should also consider purchasing a hygrometer, which will tell you how humid the air in your snake’s tank is. Hognoses in the US often live in dry and arid conditions, so don’t like their tank to be too moist. However, they do like a humid/moist hide that they can burrow down into. With a moist hide and a relatively dry tank, they can regulate their moisture levels correctly.

2) Hognose Snake Parasites

The vast majority of wild-caught snakes are infested with some parasite or other.

The most common are mites and ticks. These drink blood, just like mites and ticks on other pets. Severe infestations can even cause anemia due to blood loss. These infestations are highly noticeable because you can directly see the mites and ticks. They aren’t hidden underneath the snake’s scales. If you’d like to get rid of them, encourage your snake to bathe.

Your snake will naturally want to bathe. Over many thousands of years, they’ve learned that they can stay submerged for longer than the ticks and mites can. The mites will drown, although this won’t necessarily kill them all.

If you’d like to be 100% sure that every mite and tick is dead, you can use sprays on the snake and their enclosure. There are many available online. But instead of dealing with the problem once it’s already begun, why not nip it in the bud with better handling and cleaning techniques?

Prevention of Hognose Snake Parasites

Parasites are spread through contact. If your hognose lives alone, you might, therefore, think they’re safe. But that’s not true.

Unsafe handling practices can spread parasites and mites. Let’s say you went to the pet store today and handled a new pet snake you were thinking of buying as a friend for your hognose.

You took them out of their vivarium, had a play around with them, and put them back. On second thoughts, you didn’t buy them. You then go home and say hello to your hognose, picking them up and giving their head a scratch.

Unfortunately, what you’ve just done might give them mites or worse.

Mites and other parasites, including their eggs, can be transferred to you and your clothes. If you then touch your hognose snake, you can pass them on. You should wash your hands before and after you handle any reptile. This is also safer for you.

The CDC recommends washing your hands after handling reptiles because they carry salmonella, which can be fatal for children.

Tips and Advice

Whenever you notice that your hognose snake goes to the toilet, you should clean their tank and change the affected substrate. Take your hognose and put them somewhere safe for the time being. A good time to clean their tank is when they’re in their ‘bath,’ be it a bowl or the actual bathtub. Snakes like to bathe for about fifteen minutes, which gives you plenty of time.

While wearing gloves, you should bin any feces and old skin that you find. Snakes carry salmonella, so don’t touch their old skin directly. Take the substrate out. Check the substrate and see if it needs changing. If it’s damp, or if it smells bad, throw it away. With the tank empty, spray it all over with disinfectant and wipe it away. When their vivarium is dry, replace their substrate.

You should also replace their water regularly, every day being optimal, but not always necessary.

Is the Hognose Snake a Good Beginner Pet?

Hognoses make a great beginner pet. They’re the perfect size both as hatchlings, and as fully-grown adults, they’re well-behaved and inquisitive but generally not aggressive, and they’re no more expensive than other snakes their size. This means they are a good choice if you’ve never had a snake before and, for example, don’t know how to handle one yet.

hognose snake substrate

How Much Does a Hognose Snake Cost?

If you’re thinking of getting a pet snake, do be aware that they cost more than your average pet. With normal pets, you take them for a walk, you get the basic food like kibble, and you might need to take them to the vet every once in a while.

Snakes need more care and attention than that because you need to replicate their environment as well as possible. As such, let’s take a look at the cost of owning a hognose snake and making a suitable enclosure for them.

Species That Are Similar to the Hognose Snake

If you don’t want a hognose, you could pick any number of other common snakes. The most common are corn snakes, ball pythons and gopher snakes. Each is broadly similar to the others, and none present a particular challenge in terms of care—apart from their size.

1) Corn Snake

Corn snakes are well-behaved like hognoses, and start at a similar size. They do grow bigger than hognoses, but they’re polite snakes for the most part. That’s the main thing you should look for in a beginner snake—good temperament. There are also dozens upon dozens of morphs available, which is usually the case for snakes as common as these.

2) Ball Python

Ball pythons are the most common pet snake at the moment. Not only are they a shy snake, but they come in all sorts of morphs too (patterns and colors). They’re also relatively easy to keep, just like a hognose, and they have a stout and heavy body too. However, they grow much heavier and longer than hognoses and therefore need bigger enclosures.

3) Gopher Snake

Gopher snakes are a less common pet, but they’re a joy to keep. Again, they’ve been picked as pets because they’re well-behaved and relatively easy to care for. Both gopher snakes and ball pythons do grow bigger than hognoses, though (at least, the females do).

And there you have it. That’s everything you could need to know about getting and keeping a hognose as a pet. They do make an excellent starter snake, so if you’ve never had one before, a hognose should be one of the breeds you consider. Just don’t stress them out by making them play dead over and over again.