The eastern hognose snake is a heavy-bodied reptile with a length of about 28 inches (71 cm), and it's located primarily in the eastern portion of the United States. Its range extends south to Florida and north all the way into the New England area. These snakes come in a lot of different colors, from gray to black, and they have a pattern of recognizable darker spots down their backs and sides. The name "hognose" comes from the distinctive upturned nose, which helps when digging.
They prefer loose, sandy soils, but other than that, the snakes' habitat is pretty wide-ranging. These snakes can be found in many different kinds of locations, including forests, fields, and beaches. They aren't that commonly seen by people, but they aren't especially rare either, and their population numbers are considered pretty healthy by most organizations.
The eastern hognose snake tends to do most of its hunting during the day, and usually rests during the evening hours. They use their signature nose to dig into the dirt to look for toads, which are their primary food source. Toads have a defense mechanism of inflating themselves when threatened, and the snakes have adapted special back teeth that help them to puncture the toads and swallow them more easily. The eastern hognose snake is also known to eat small mammals, birds and reptiles.
One of the most unique aspects of the eastern hognose snake is its special defense mechanism, which has earned it the nickname "puff adder." When the animals feel threatened, their first reaction is to puff up the skin around their head and lunge around in a display of extreme ferocity. They may even act like they are about to strike aggressively, and they normally make a lot of threatening hissing sounds along with the physical display. The snakes do possess a mild poison, but they almost never actually attack people.
If the puffing threat doesn't work, the eastern hognose snake will usually play dead. They do this in a very elaborate way, writhing as though they are in pain, then vomiting and rolling onto their backs with their tongues lolling out of their mouths. They will generally continue this ruse even if they are picked up or moved. In most cases, the only way to get a reaction is to turn the snake over on its belly, and then it will flop over into the position again.