Eastern Hog-nosed Snake (Heterodon platyrhinos)
Status in Canada: Threatened
Status in Ontario: Threatened
Status at SWCR: Common
It gets its name from the scales on its nose which gives it an upturned “hog-like” appearance. Colour and pattern vary widely, but it’s resemblance to a cobra often results in the unfair persecution of this harmless snake.
- When threatened, it flattens its neck, much like a cobra, but the Eastern Hog-nosed snake is not venomous, and rarely bites.
- It prefers open, sandy, and well drained habitats, but also needs wet areas where it can hunt for frogs, toads, and lizards.
Threats at the St. Williams Conservation Reserve:
Habitat degradation: Land development for agriculture, as well as natural succession and canopy closure, reduce the availability of the open, sandy soiled environments it requires.
Injury and mortality: These snakes are regularly persecuted and often get injured or killed by vehicles along trails or roads.
Activities that can damage Eastern hog-nosed snake and its critical habitat include:
- Activities that can introduce or encourage the growth of invasive plants, such as dumping of garden waste and off-trail ATV use.
- Activities that interfere with understory shrubs, unauthorized plant collecting and off-trail ATV use.
- Off-trail recreational activities that can injure snakes, or remove them from their habitat, such as off-trail ATV use and illegal collecting.
St. Williams Conservation Reserve management practices:
- Population monitoring
- Forest thinning activities
- Invasive plant control
- Enforcement of unauthorized trail use
- Prescribed burns
What you can do to help:
- Follow the code of conduct for recreational activities in the Conservation Reserve and know and respect the current trail-use regulations.
- Clean your boots, bicycle tires, or ATV before and after visiting the SWCR or other natural areas to avoid spreading invasive plant seeds.
- Report sightings to the SWCR CC, or the Natural Heritage Information Centre.
- Report unauthorized trail use or any illegal activity related to plants and wildlife to 1-877-TIPS-MNR (847-7667).