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



Scientific name: Heterodon simus (LINNAEUS 1766)
* Currently accepted name


* scientific names used through time

  • Coluber simus – LINNAEUS 1766
  • Heterodon simus – HOLBROOK 1842

Description: Average adult size is 14-21 inches (35.5-53.3 cm), record is 24 inches (60.9 cm). It has a thick body and sharply upturned, pointed snout. Adults are light yellowish brown and may be tinged with orange-red, with dark blotches on the back and smaller blotches on the sides. The underside of the tail and the belly are the same light color of sandy gray. There is a dark line extending from the upper jaw through the eye. The scales are keeled, and there are 25 dorsal scale rows at midbody. The pupil is round. Juveniles are grayish with dark blotches.

heterodon simus illustration

A. Side of the head
B. Top of the head
C. Front (face view) of the head
D. Keeled scales
E. Elongated scales below the tail (subcaudal scales) are typically divided

Range: Uncommon to rare, but occasionally found throughout northern Florida south to Lake Okeechobee. Outside of Florida, it is found from southern Mississippi east to North Carolina.

Habitat: Occurs in sandhills, scrub, high pine and turkey oak woodlands, hardwood hammocks, and dry river floodplains.

Comments: HARMLESS (Non-Venomous). See comments under Eastern Hognose Snake (Heterodon platirhinos).

It feeds mainly on spadefoot, southern, and oak toads. However, occasionally it may eat other frogs, lizards, and small rodents.


The Southern Hognose Snake lays eggs. Breeding takes place between April and August. Males often follow the female around for several days prior to courtship and copulation. They lay between 6-14 whitish, thin shelled, leathery eggs, which hatch in 55-60 days. Hatchlings are 6-7 inches (15-17 cm).

Comparison with other species: The Eastern Hognose Snake (Heterodon platirhinos) has a light belly and underside of the tail, and a less upturned snout, and the Pigmy Rattlesnake (Sistrurus miliarius) has a blunt nose – it is easy to distinguish between the harmless Hognose Snakes and Pigmy Rattlesnake.