Sunday, August 1, 2010

Piglet, the Western Hog-nosed Snake

Volunteering at Shawnee State Park in Southeastern Ohio
I'm a little embarrassed to admit it, but I had never heard of an Eastern or Western Hog-nosed Snake before I came nose to snout with one at Jenny's Nature Center, and if I'm telling the truth, I should also mention that when I first picked little Piglet up, I was a tiny bit...unnerved. That little up-turned snout looked dangerous to me, but within seconds of holding him, I was hooked. He was so gentle and cute...and sweet! After all, how could anything named "Piglet" be scary?


How can I have lived almost 50 years in Ohio and never have heard of or seen this beautiful snake? I knew so little about our native snakes before volunteering at Shawnee State Park. The knowledge I gained was invaluable. Thanks, Jenny!!



Piglet was playing in the rain with Matty when I took these shots. His little Piglet snout looked especially cute sprinkled with raindrops, but it has a function too. He uses it to dig in sandy soils, sweeping his head back and forth.


...beautiful markings, but the pattern scared some of the parents who thought he might be an Eastern Massasauga (poisonous). A lot of people had never heard of a hognose, but soon overcame their fear when they saw how docile and harmless Piglet was.



...the longer you look at this guy the cuter he becomes. It's amazing what a week with these critters can do for you.

Matthew Riccetti at the Shawnee State Park Nature Center
Piglet rests in Matty's hand.


...all the kids who came into the Nature Center ended up falling for Piglet! Here a little boy gently holds Piglet who gives us a nice profile shot!

Hog-nosed Snakes actually have fangs (or large teeth) in the rear of their mouths, and their saliva is slightly toxic to their prey but harmless to humans. Piglet was so friendly, we didn't get to see the act a hognose puts on when he feels threatened. A hognose will rear up, flatten its head, inflate its body and hiss...and if that doesn't scare his enemy away, he might just flop over and play dead like an opossum. Either way, it would be quite a sight to see...

...for a post on a native Eastern Hognose Snake and his "playing dead" antics, click here.

33 comments:

sebi_2569 said...

very beautiful photo; bravo

holdingmoments said...

He is a little beauty Kelly. So unusual with that turned up nose lol

Roy said...

I love Hognoses! We used to play with them when I was a kid in MD. Yeah, they put on an impressive show, and when you don't fall for it they play dead. Classic!

Laure Ferlita said...

I learn from you every time I read a post!

What a beautiful creature with such diverse talents (digging, acting big and bad, acting dead)!!

Steve Willson said...

Great shots of the Hog-nosed. Years ago I went out to check on some field work my technicians were doing and found them running down the road. When I stopped them, they managed to gasp out a story of being attacked by a Cobra. They had been bluffed by a Hog-nosed.

Adrienne in Ohio said...

I'm so glad you included the pictures of Piglet in Matty's hand. He's much smaller than I first thought. And I have to agree, he really is cute!

Valerie said...

It is cute!
(I can't believe I just said that - but it is true!!)

Montanagirl said...

Nice photos of Piglet! He does kind of have a cute little face.

Pam Johnson Brickell said...

Great shots! I'm so happy that you shared!

We have a lot of these in the low country of SC. Northern city transplants to this area don't understand snakes and their value. They don't care if a harmless snakes crosses their path - they kill it immediately. Quite sad and we in the know are trying to educate the masses as much as we can.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Glad you learned so much at 'camp', Kelly.... I'm sure that this was a fabulous experience for you and Matty.

Piglet is a pretty one for sure... I don't know snakes either --so it would be a learning experience for me also... I do know that I'm afraid of ALL of them... ha

Hugs,
Betsy

Cherrie said...

I don't know if I could hold piglet! Kinda scary! His coloring is a little like the diamondback rattlers here!

Louise said...

I've never seen a Hognosed snake before. Piglet is very handsome.

I've been blog cruising today, and just found your blog. Spent some time reading, and I have to say that I am impressed. Nature blogs always hold my attention. Plus the quality of your photos is spectacular.

Gaina said...

Ah! He's so cute!! :D

I'd heard of an Easter Hog-nose but not the Eastern Massasauga. What are the physical differences between the two species?

JKoenig said...

I must admit, that is a cute little turned-up nose.

Kelly, you are the first person who has ever made a snake look "cute" to me!

Kathi said...

Beautiful photographs! How have I missed your blog so far? Got here via a link from Wren (Jane Blumenthal) I'll be back.

Andy Wilson said...

captured very well with those photos!

Dave said...

Great stuff! Snakes get a bad rap every where, and it is very undeserved. They do a lot of good...

Midmarsh John said...

A really great set of photos there Kelly.

Jayne said...

It's so great that you got to have so much exposure to snakes and became able to appreciate how lovely they can be. Love the photos of Piglet!

Ginnymo said...

Amazing photos Kelly! That snake is a beauty!!

Abraham Lincoln said...

I am not much of a snake person but will tolerate them and have tried to intice them to live here. So far we have seen three garter snakes.

Ken Browne. said...

Hi Kelly.
All I can say is, more lovely snake photograph's, especially the close up's.

Chris said...

I'll never be able to do what that kid did.. I hate snake, and I'm damned afraid of them... Beautiful post thought ;-)

BirdingMaine said...

WOW, what a snake! Excellent photos that show great detail Kelly!

Rural Rambler said...

Kelly I had to come over and check out Piglet. I love Pooh's Piglet and while this Piglet is not the Piglet I am familiar with, I have to say that this Piglet is pretty charming.

Jenny said...

Amazing stuff Kelly. I need to catch up on your posts. I've kind of drifted over the last few weeks! The photo with Piglet in the boys hand is really lovely.

Kathy A. Johnson said...

Only you could make a snake look cute :)

The Early Birder said...

I can't admit to being a snake lover but I was certainly charmed by the Piglet. FAB.

Kelly said...

...thanks, everyone! I wasn't afraid of snakes when I went to work at the nature center, but I wasn't a lover of them either. I really didn't have much experience with them. There's so much to learn about snakes. Once you learn which snakes are venomous and which aren't, a whole new world opens! I never thought I'd think a snake was cute, but I do now!

E said...

Very interesting, Kelly, your kid is wonderful and loves to learn everything.
Many hugs

Robin Robinson said...

Terrific shots and I agree, Piglet grows on a person. I have not seen many snakes in the wild this year at all, which has been unusual.

Mary said...

What a cute nose it has! That first shot is wonderful...well, they all are, but I like that one.

Anna said...

I must admit too Kelly, and this is one of the cutest snakes I ever seen, lol. Thanks for sharing, another great photo shoot. Anna :)