Species at Risk

Eastern Hog-nosed Snake

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.

Quick Facts:

  • 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:

  1. Activities that can introduce or encourage the growth of invasive plants, such as dumping of garden waste and off-trail ATV use.
  2. Activities that interfere with understory shrubs, unauthorized plant collecting and off-trail ATV use.
  3. 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).

More information:

Species At Risk Public Registry Profile

Ontario Species at Risk Profile

Funding for this project was provided through the Species At Risk Stewardship Fund