NON-VENOMOUS

Other common names

Southern Hognose Snake, Puff Adder, Hissing Adder, Spreading Adder, Blow Viper, Hissing Sand Snake

Basic description

Most adult southern hog-nosed snakes are about 18-22 inches (45-55 cm) in total length. These are small, stout-bodied snakes with sharply upturned snouts. Adults can be light gray, tan, yellowish brown, or orangish-red, with large dark blotches down the middle of the back that alternate with smaller dark blotches on the sides. There is often reddish-orange coloration between the large blotches on the back. There is a dark line extending from the upper jaw through the eye. Juvenile coloration is similar to that described for adults but more vivid.

small snake with spots and a snubnose
Southern hognose snake. Photo courtesy of Noah Mueller.

Range

Southern hog-nosed snakes are found throughout the Panhandle and in parts of the northern and central peninsula west of the St. Johns River. They are absent from the Florida Keys.

Assessment of risk to people and pets

Non-venomous. Southern hog-nosed snakes are not dangerous to people or pets. They do, however, produce a mild venom that is used for subduing prey. This mild venom is delivered by two enlarged teeth at the back of the upper jaw. However, bites from southern hog-nosed snakes are extremely rare. These snakes are not aggressive and are not known to bite even in self defense. People who have been bitten were usually handling the snake after handling frogs or toads (two of these snakes’ favorite foods), and the bites were from snakes that were confused and hungry. Humans that are allergic to the small amount of venom produced have experienced local swelling and irritation, but no human death from this species has ever occurred. Virtually all bites have occurred when the snakes were intentionally handled.

Comparison with other species

gray snake with upturned nose and gray markings
Photo courtesy of Bester Photo.

Eastern Hog-nosed snake (Heterodon platirhinos) typically has a darker belly than the underside of the tail, and a less upturned snout.

Pygmy rattlesnake.
Photo courtesy of Todd Pierson.

Pygmy Rattlesnake (Sistrurus miliarius) has a blunt nose and a small rattle on the tip of the tail.


Share your observations

You can help scientists better understand the biology and distribution of this species by sharing your observations. Send photos or videos of interesting observations, along with associated information, by emailing the herpetology staff at the Florida Museum for documentation in the Museum’s Herpetology Master Database. You can also post your observations on iNaturalist.

Additional helpful information

Do you have snakes around your house? Learn how to safely co-exist with snakes.

Still have questions about snakes or identifications? Feel free to email the herpetology staff at the Florida Museum with your questions or feedback on this profile.

Banner photo courtesy of Noah Mueller. Please credit any photographers on the page and see our copyright policy.