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Saturday, June 22: Stone Zoo will close at 3pm (last tickets sold at 2pm) in preparation for our event, A Wild Affair. Please plan your visit accordingly!

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eastern hognose snake

Eastern Hognose Snake Conservation

We monitor and protect some of the northern-most populations of the threatened eastern hognose snake in eastern Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire.

Eastern hognose snakes (Heterodon platirhinos) are mid-size, harmless snakes that prey almost exclusively on amphibians (frogs and salamanders), particularly toads. They are famous for their defensive behaviors – when hognose snakes encounter a potential predator, they will often mimic venomous snakes by rearing up, fanning the skin around their necks (pretending to be little cobras), and hissing loudly. If the predator doesn’t back off, “plan B” is often playing dead – the snake may flip on its back, writhe around as if in a death spasm, open its mouth, stick out its tongue, and finally lay still.

Unfortunately, the complex anti-predator behavior of eastern hognose snakes has not saved them from the impacts of human development along the coastal plain of southern New England. Eastern hognose snakes were recently listed as a “Species of Special Concern under the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act, and they are an “Endangered Species” in New Hampshire, where the species reaches its current northern range limit.

Our Field Conservation Department is assisting a skilled group of herpetologists in assessing a surprisingly robust population of eastern hognose snakes in northern Massachusetts. We will also be working with the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department to survey for hognose snakes in sandy areas of southern New Hampshire. We hope to contribute to the conservation of this unique and charming snake species by helping to find and protect nests, enhance foraging habitat, and educate the public about their hognose snake neighbors.