Hognose Snake Care Sheet & Guide to Ownership

Hognose snakes have a unique, shovel-like head and they are a common and popular breed of pet snake. There are several reasons why Hognose Snakes are a good choice when it comes to snake ownership. First, they don’t get too large, especially in comparison to some tropical boas or pythons. Plus, they don’t have too many special needs that make it difficult to care for them. Hognose snakes are usually in most pet stores and are sold by most breeders.

Hognose snakes make excellent first time snakes for new owners!

In this guide, you’ll find everything you need to know to ensure proper Hognose Snake care. Additionally, we will provide best practices and tips on how to get the right terrarium set up for your new Hognosed friend.

Right off the bat, you’ll need to know a few key pieces of information before moving forward with owning a Hognose Snake.

Eastern and Western Hognose Snake Care Sheet FAQs

First, this guide applies mainly to Western Hognose Snake care and Eastern Hognose Snake care.

If you’re considering a Hognose, we highly recommend you stick with Western and Eastern breeds. Most breeders will recommend these two types in the first place, as they are the most commonly owned type of Hognose Snake.

Be wary of Madagascar Hognose Snakes. Although they can be owned in captivity, this breed of Hognose is slightly venomous and should only be considered by more seasoned serpent owners. Plus, Madagascar Hognose Snakes are much larger than the Eastern and Western breeds. Not to mention, the Madagascar breed requires a much more hot and dry enclosure. With all that in mind, stick with the Eastern and Western Hognose Snake. Chances are you will not find many breeders who offer the Madagascar Hognose anyways.

Hognose Snake Pet Habitat Guide

Hognose Snakes can survive happily in several different kinds of terrariums and enclosures. If you’re considering one of them as a pet, you’ll have a wide array of options at various price points.

Because Hognose Snakes are on the smaller side, you don’t need the worlds largest terrarium. Hognose Snakes do well in both glass terrariums, converted fish tanks, and modified plastic storage containers.

We will give you our recommendation below for a setup that will ensure proper Hognose Snake care. Plus, this guide covers all you need to know about heating components, substrate, and more.

REPTIZOO Reptile Glass Terrarium 36x18x18

While it's not required to get this large of a cage for a Hognose Snake, we do tend to recommend REPTIZOO enclosures. This one in particular has a lot of great features, and is compatible with all of the items on the list. The best part about this terrarium is that it opens from the front. That makes for easy handling and feeding.

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ReptiChip Premium Coconut Substrate

You can't go wrong with the ReptiChip Coconut Substrate. Although Hognose Snakes are more "desert dwelling", it's best to get larger substrate for them in captivity. Sand can be digested, which can lead to health problems for your snake.

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Zilla Reptile Habitat D├ęcor Shale Rock Den

Like most snakes, Hognoses enjoy having some cover and places they can get away. This is what is commonly called a "snake hide". You'll need to get one for your Hognose's enclosure, and we recommend either this one or some form of hollowed out log. There are plenty of options to choose from, just make sure you get at least one to start.

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a snake house hide
iPower Digital Heat Mat Thermostat Controller for Reptiles

Thermostats are a must have for any terrarium. This will help you easily gauge and regulate the temperature in your new terrarium. You may want to consider having two thermostats; one for each side of the cage. That way, you can measure both the basking and ambient sides of the terrarium.

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Exo Terra Water Dish

Another essential is the water bowl. While it may not seem like there's anything special about a water bowl, you'd be surprised. We like this one simply because it's easy to clean, holds a lot of water, and the inside of it is a lighter color. The lighter color makes it easier to know if and when the bowl should be cleaned.

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california king snake water bowl

Enclosure Temperature, Humidity, and Lighting

There are certain measures to take when it comes to providing proper Hognose Snake care. One of the most important parts of a cage for Hognose is it’s climate and temperature regulation. Three components come into considering in order to provide your Hognose Snake a healthy habitat. Temperature, humidity, and lighting. Below, you’ll find the proper instructions and recommended products when it comes to these three aspects of a Hognose Snake enclosure.

Pet Hognose Snake Proper Temperature

First, you’ll need to make sure your Hognose Snake has the right temperature in it’s terrarium. Like most snakes, Hognose’s enjoy both a basking and an ambient area.

You’ll need to have one side of the cage with more constant heat, and the other less heat. That way, your Hognose Snake can enjoy warming up, but won’t get too hot.

Plus, you need to make sure you have distinct daytime and nighttime heats for the terrarium. More on lighting and light cycles in the next section.

Below, you’ll find both the recommended basking and ambient temperatures for both Western and Eastern Hognose Snakes:

Daytime Basking Temperature Range: 88-90 Degrees Fahrenheit

Daytime Ambient Temperature: 77-80 Degrees Fahrenheit

Nighttime Temperature: 76-79 Degrees Fahrenheit

Note that it is not required to have basking and ambient temperature at nighttime. That said, if you want to provide heat for a Hognose Snake at night, use a heating pad rather than a light emitting heat source.

Also, If you live in a colder area, it may be necessary to provide a heat source at nighttime. This depends on how cold your home usually gets. In which case, a reptile heating pad should suffice.

Flukers clamp Lamp

Excellent lamp that will fit a variety of heating bulbs.

Keeping your Hognose Snake’s tank properly lit is essential to a healthy habitat. Fluker’s is a well known brand when it comes to snake and reptile ownership. We love their products, and when it comes to heat lamps, this is the one to go with. The Clamp Lamp is durable, clamps on to many different cages, and best of all, doesn’t cost a fortune. Be war of some pet stores charging an arm and a leg for these kinds of light fixtures.

iPOWER Reptile Heating Pad

Great nighttime heatsource for your Hognose Snake’s tank

If you live in a cold area, this is a great solution for keeping your Hognose Snake’s tank properly regulated during nighttme. Although they require several hours of darkness each day, they still like to be warm. The iPOWER Reptile Heating Pads have adjustable temperatures, and can also be used in conjunction with an outlet timer (more on this below).

It’s a great option for a Hognose Snake tank. Consequently, you need to be careful when it comes to other heat sources. Gimmicky heat sources like heated rocks, heated water bowls, etc. can damage snakes because they often overheat. It’s best to avoid any heat sources that can come in direct contact with your snake. That holds true for any breed, not just Hognose Snakes.

Lighting Recommendation

To ensure proper Hognose Snake care, you’ll need to set up a terrarium with regulated lighting. Every snake is different – some require daylight and nighttime periods, and some do not.

With that in mind, both Eastern and Western Hognose Snakes require a fixed day and night period. Additionally, the required length of daytime differs for Hognose snakes throughout the year.

During the spring and summer, full spectrum lighting should be provided for approximately 15 hours each day. Consequently, full spectrum light should be changed to approximately 9 hours each day in the autumn and winter.

Now, lighting can be as hard or as easy as you want to make it. There’s a little trick that will make this whole ordeal so much easier for you: an outlet timer.

This timer makes automating your Hognose Snake lighting a breeze. It’s so, so very convenient. Trust us, it’s well worth the investment — trying to click on and off your snakes light at the same time every night and morning can be exhausting. That’s why we recommend using this nifty little timer. Not to mention, it’s pretty cheap and easy to set up.

Hognose Snake Humidity

For the most part, Hognoses are more “desert dwellers” than “tropical”. That means unlike Ball Pythons, Hognose Snakes prefer slightly more arid conditions.

While not totally necessary, we recommend getting a humidity tester to make sure that your snake’s terrarium is set to the proper climate.

Both Eastern and Western Hognose Snakes prefer a humidity of around 25-30%, the maximum being about 45%. In most cases, that humidity should not be hard to achieve. Unless you live in the dessert with 0 humidity or the rain forest with 100% humidity, you can probably get by without a humidifier/dehumidifier.

At very least, test humidity of the room, basement, or wherever you plan on keeping your terrarium. If it’s not in the ~25%-~45% range, you may need to take action.

If it’s too dry, often times a mister or spray bottle will do the trick. Also, always make sure your Hognose Snake has a full and clean water dish. That will help with humidity.

On the other hand, if it’s too humid, consider your heating lamp. Does it get hot enough? If not, it could be leading to an excess of water in the air, leading to a more than ideal humid environment. Additionally, you should consider adding a small dehumidifier near your serpents cage.

Hognose Snake Care: Cage Maintenance

Like any pet, it’s important to make sure Hognose Snakes have a clean and sanitary habitat. The good news is that maintaining a snake’s tank is far easier than say, taking care of a dog or cat. It requires minimal attention, but routine habits to make sure your Hognose Snake has a happy and healthy environment.


Even though Hognoses are from more desert-like habitats, sand is not a good substrate for them in captivity. When it comes to Hognose Snake bedding, it’s best to stick with larger chips. Small substrate is risky because it can be ingested by the Hognose breed. Bedding ingestion can cause all types of problems that are best avoided by choosing the right substrate in the first place.

When it comes to Hognose Snakes, we recommend Reptichip Premium CoconustSubstrate.

Reptichip Premium Coconut Substrate – Organically Sourced

This is in our opinion, the best Hognose Snake bedding available.

Both Western and Eastern Hognose Snakes do well in a course bedding like this substrate. Reptichip makes a quality bedding, and this one comes highly recommended.

This organically sourced bedding does not put off an odor, is not treated with any chemicals, and puts off minimal dust and dirt. All great qualities when it comes to snake bedding.

If you want a more cost-friendly alternative, shredded newspaper is a good choice. That said, it’s best to feed Hognose Snakes in an different enclosure with no substrate if you go down this route. We find using chips is easier, cleaner, and looks nicer in general.

Terrarium Cleaning and Sanitation

When it comes to maintaining your Hognose Snake’s enclosure, three main factors come into play:

  1. Cleaning and changing substrate
    • Remove any defecate as your snake eats and has bowel movements.
    • Sift through the substrate at least once a week to remove any droppings.
    • Change the snake substrate every 1-2 months to ensure proper Hognose Snake care
  2. Sanitizing the terrarium
    • Rule of thumb, when you change out the substrate, it’s best to sanitize the terrarium with the proper cleaner. We prefer Carolina Custom Chlorhexidine Solution. One order of that will last you years.
    • When removing substrate, sweep out any dust and fully wipe down the inside of the tank with the above solution.
    • Let the tank dry fully before adding back substrate and your Hognose Snake.
  3. Cleaning and changing water
    • It’s best to change your snake’s water once a day. Fresh water daily will ensure your snake stays happy and healthy. Water bowls are a breeding ground for mold, bacteria, etc.
    • Wash, scrub, and sanitize your snake’s water bowl once a week. Water bowls are prone to building up nasty slime. When cleaning, you can use a diluted bleach solution or the above recommended cleaner. Either way, make sure you full rinse and dry the water bowl before filling it up and putting it back in the terrarium.

Pet Hognose Snake Feeding Best Practices

Hognose snakes are for the most part, good eaters. They’re also really good at telling you when they want to eat. When Hognose Snakes are hungry, they often will slither toward you with their mouth open. If this happens, don’t be alarmed. It’s completely normal. They’re just telling you, “I’m hungry, give me food!”

Hognose Snakes will open their mouth when approaching you to tell you they are hungry

Once your Hognose Snake is on a normal schedule, feeding should be easy and they are good eaters. That said, many owners report they have trouble feeding infant or young Hognose Snakes. Often times, they will reject food. The best way to avoid this from happening is to buy a Hognose Snake that is already an established eater.

Hognose Snake Care Pro-tip

When buying a baby Hognose Snake, ask the breeder if it has been fed 3-5 times already. Typically, young Hognose Snakes require an experienced breeder to feed them the first few times. Most reputable breeders will do this, and they will likely tell you, too. It’s always best to ask so you can avoid stressful situations down the road.

Even if a Hognose Snake is properly raised by a breeder, they can still be difficult eaters at a young age. Most baby Hognose Snakes will accept thawed pinkies dipped in warm water. If they don’t, try dipping the pinkies with canned tuna juice. Or, ask your breeder for recommendations on how to get them to take to food.

Once Hognose Snakes begin eating regularly, they will often “come at you” with their mouth wide open ready to eat. At this point, you shouldn’t have any problems feeding them.

Why You Should Use Frozen Mice

When it comes to feeding your snake, you have two options: 1. Live mice, or 2. Frozen mice.

We highly recommend going with frozen mice. While you can feed a Hognose live mice, there are several reasons why you should opt for frozen.

First, live mice can damage a captive snake because they have sharp teeth. It’s best to use frozen so you can avoid any injuries to your Hognose.

Secondly, frozen mice are way more convenient to buy and store. You don’t have to worry about running to the pet store once a week. Plus, frozen mice are usually vacuum sealed & you can buy them online. Instead of worrying about running to the pet store every week, buy a bulk pack of 50 frozen mice and store them in your freezer. How nice would it be to only have to worry about snake food once every 6 months or so?

All-in-all, frozen mice are the way to go. When it comes to actually feeding your Hognose snake a frozen mouse, you’ll need to take note of a few things. It’s best to defrost the mice in warm water before feeding. Also, you should use tongs every time you feed your Hognose. They are fast strikers, and sometimes they’re not too accurate. Tongs will help you avoid any accidental bites.

Temperament and Handling

Both Eastern and Western Hognose Snakes tend to be docile and easy to handle. They are typically friendly, and rarely bite. In fact, most bites we hear about are due to feeding without tongs. As mentioned above, Hognose Snakes are fast and sometimes clumsy strikers.

Sometimes, Hognose Snakes will puff up or bluff at you. It’s best to leave them alone at this time to avoid causing any stress. They usually do this when they’re hungry, so wait until they are in a better mood to handle again. This type of behavior is pretty normal, and when it happens, they’re basically telling you not to bother them.

Also, Hognose Snakes have been known to play dead every now and again. If this happens, don’t panic. It’s a normal defense mechanism, and they should be back to normal in no time. Consider handling your snake at least once or twice a week so they become familiar with you. Once familiar, this should prevent them playing dead down the road.

Buying a Hognose Snake as a Pet

OK, so you’re ready to buy a Hognose Snake. But where do you buy one? Great question.

First, you should run a few Google searches to see if you can find “Breeders near you”. Buying from a reputable breeder is the way to go. That way, you’ll be able to ask questions and get advice about the snake you’re buying. Also, it’s good to buy from someone who is passionate about snakes.

Pet stores are OK, but often times they have very limited selections.

Lastly, you can (strangely) buy snakes online and have them shipped to your front door. Sounds odd, right? Well, it’s absolutely doable. Try out XYZreptiles, they’ve been around for a long time, and are a fairly well known brand. They also have a ton of different options to choose from.

How Much does a Hognose Snake Cost?

The final question you’ll need to know the answer to when it comes to owning a pet Hognose Snake.

Now, Hognose Snakes come in a few different morphs. For the the low end, standard looking Eastern or Western Hognose Snake, you will likely pay around $40-$60 dollars.

Of course, that depends on where you choose to purchase the Hognose Snake.

Typically, snakes are more expensive at pet stores. Breeders on the other hand usually have better prices and can provide better quality snakes with more variety.

At the end of the day, it’ll be the difference of at most around $30. But hey this is about starting your journey as a pet owner, not pinching a few pennies!

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3 thoughts on “Hognose Snake Care Sheet & Guide to Ownership”

  1. Can I use Zoo med Aspen chips from my local pet store? They look like the coconut chip things but I can go pick them up when I need them instead of having to order them on amazon once a month.

    • Hi there,

      Yes, those should be fine. I would consult someone at the pet store to be sure though.

  2. Wondering if you can point me to a breeder or any where that actually sells regular looking hognose snakes for under $100? Also I’ve been using fine ground coco-fiber, do you think this will be okay for a juvenile hognose? I’ve been using it for years with my milk snake.


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