Wednesday, June 24, 2009

He's a Jolly Good Fellow!

Scary looking, isn't he? That's what I thought when I almost stepped on him with bare feet while out in our yard! Out of desperation, I called 911 when I realized it was too late to call the nature center for an ID on this creature. We have lots of young children in our neighborhood, and I wanted to make sure it wasn't an exotic snake escapee!
He didn't seem threatening at all when he deflated his head and body. He and I soon came to realize neither one of us was going to hurt the other. Later, he let me follow him to his underground den in our yard.

Satisfied I knew where he hung his hat when he wasn't out hunting, I ran back inside. Looking him up on the internet, the kids and I learned that he's a harmless eastern hognose snake, so named for his upturned nose.
We learned these snakes are one of the best animal actors around. If puffing up its body doesn't scare you and he continues to feel threatened, he may strike at you--with his mouth closed. In spite of his appearance, this snake's species is known to be the least likely to bite! While working out in my gardens, I've often felt a "tap" at one of my legs and now wonder if we've ever encountered each other before!
Another trick he will perform is to roll over onto his back and play dead. He'll open his mouth and hang his forked tongue out to try and convince you of his death. The dead giveaway (pun intended!) is if you pick up his limp body and place him on his belly, he'll roll onto his back, again!
This beneficial fellow has rid of us mice, moles, and sadly frogs, toads, and crickets. They may also eat birds, bird eggs, smaller snakes, and dead animals. He has become an honored guest taking up residence in our yard. --LKR


Patricia said...

Wow! This is huge & scary; it looks like a rattler. Great pics/story--thanks for sharing! ~Pat

Leza said...

Thanks, Pat! Yes, and depending on their coloration, they can look quit different from each other, too! And when they puff up like this, they look like a cobra which we do not have in our area, thankfully, but you never know with people keeping exotic animals.

I never heard him hissing, but they are supposed to hiss loudly. Haven't seen him since, sadly, but I think I freaked him out!!! Hognose snakes are out and about in the daytime, just like fox snakes. You can tell by their round pupils. If they look like a cat or a goats, it is a night time snake! :-)