Care Sheet for Heterodon nasicus - Western Hognose

Care Sheet written by: Reptiles Breeding Enterprise

Hognoses are rather small snakes and are simple to keep. They don't have big claims, but some nearly have diva-like habits. If one is not impressed by their snarl and hiss, faint attacks and the cobra-like positioning these fascinating animals are easily handled.

 

Housing

Choose the box size according to the snake size because some hognoses feel insecure in cages that are too big and then stop eating. For this reason we use 17x10x7 cm boxes for hatchlings. For subadults and for most adult males (because these stay rather small) we use 39x28x14 cm and for the females (which can grow up to 90 cm in general, by the way) 50x80x50 cm boxes. The whole surface will be covered with 3 – 5 cm of aspen litter, 1 waterbowl and a hiding place. Starting from with subadults we introduce a "wetbox“. This is a closed enclosure with only a tiny aperture which is filled with damp sphagnum moss. These boxes have not only proven valuable for an unproblematic molt and for egg deposition, but they are also frequented by the animals regularly.

They best prosper by keeping them individually and with an ambient temperature between 28 and 30 degrees Celsius.


Breeding

For breeding you don´t just need a female, 60 cm long with a minimum weight of 250g (better yet 300g) and a male with a length of 30 cm and a weight of 60g , but also a  brumation of 8 to 12 weeks. Before this you shouldn't feed them for about 3 weeks so that lethal putrefactions within the digestive tract cannot occur during the cooling phase.


After having slowly raised the temperaterture and having fed the animals substatially, you bring the chosen pair together for 24 hours. This is to be repeated every 4-6 days. The egg development can take from three to 8 weeks and comes along with a visible extensive increase within the rear 40% of the snake. A "pre-egg deposition shed" occurs at a special time before the egg deposition. About 5-14 days after this shed the egg deposion can be expected. The clutch amount can vary from 4 up to 25 eggs, but we also know of accounts of 30+ eggs. This is surely an exception though.


Eggs

The eggs are incubated at a temperature of 26,5 – 28,5 °C. Any commercial available substrate is good for incubation, whilst we swear by a mixture of Perlite and Vermiculite. When adding one third of water to the whole weight and taking the above named temperatures, the small Hognoses should be seen after about 40-65 days.


Hatchlings

Shortly after the eclosion the hatchlings shed for the first time. One should begin feeding them 4-7 days after this shed. 90% of them begin to eat defrosted pinkies without any problems. For this we keep the small snakes together with their food in an opaque enclosure (about the size of a cricket box) with the exception of the transparent cover. Here they can allow themselves time from early afternoon until the next morning to eat it up.


Feeding Hatchlings

The other 10 % still need some more time or "help“. And this is exactly the most difficult and nerve-racking part. But with perseverance this attitude can be overcome, wich is also normal for Heterodons. If there is no successful feeding after 4 attempts, which should have a 4 day break in between each attempt, one has to try some tricks. In nearly all problem cases it has proven successful to remove the drink bowl for a few days and to moisten the pinkie with fresh water when feeding. Another possibility is the "scenting“ of the pinkie with chicken meat or water from a tuna tin. Unfortunately, or better yet fortunately, we haven´t had experience with this, because we didn't have to and we don't want to start with it at all.


PLEASE PAY ATTENTION , THAT REFUSING OF FOOD IS A NATURAL ATTITUDE, ESPECIALLY DURING THE WINTER MONTHS (ALSO WITHOUT BRUMATION), AND WHEN CHANGING THE LOCATION, THIS IS A TYPICAL REACTION OF HETERODONS. JUST HAVE PATIENCE!


We hope that our caresheet can help you.
Raimo Hühn


We make no claim that this is a thorough caresheet and don't assume liability for the data in our keeping and breeding report. The temperature and time data are only of our own experiences. There is no liability claim in possible damage or loss by adopting these values.