Hognose Snake Bite. Does it Hurt? What You Should Know

The last thing a pet owner wants is to be bitten or feel threatened by their pet. A bite can be a traumatic experience, especially for newly minted snake owners. While a bite from a Hognose Snake isn’t necessarily dangerous, there are some precautions you should take if occurs.

According to the Mayo Clinic, nonvenomous snake bites only result in pain and scratch like symptoms to the site. According to me, Hognose Snake bites are generally painless.

Usually, the incident can is more emotionally damaging vs. physically harmful. Especially if the victim is a first time owner, or a loved one who isn’t comfortable with snakes.

With all of this in mind, getting bit by a snake is a pretty common fear. If it does happen, don’t panic.

Hognose Snake Bites are generally harmless. That said, they do technically have venom, but it’s for the most part irrelevant for bite to a human.

While they are a great choice for a pet snake, If there is a bite, there are a few safety precautions one should take.

hognose snake care sheet

What It Feels Like to Get Bit

Again, there is a good chance you will hardly feel a bite from a Hognose Snake. Similar to a Corn Snake Bite, a bite from a Hognose will likely not even break skin.

Hognose Snakes tend to be relatively small, and thus don’t have a powerful enough bite to draw blood from human skin. Typically, snake bites most regularly around feeding time. Chances are, your snake mistook you for a mouse, or was strike-friendly because it is hungry. We will cover common times that bites occur, as well as how to prevent a bite from happening later on.

What To Do If You Get Bit By a Hognose Snake

For starters, don’t panic. There’s a good chance the bite was more of a “love tap”.

In fact, Hognose Snakes are seen as mostly as “mild captives”, and are rarely ever known to strike a human. Even if they do, the effects are typically mild.

Here’s an example of a well documented incident of a Hognose Snake bite, which shows likely the worst case scenario of being bitten by a Hognose Snake.

Even then, the implications are mild, and this happening is viewed as a total anomaly, i.e. it the chances of a bite like this are extremely rare.

There are virtually no implications of getting bitten by a Hognose Snake. In 99.9% of cases, all you’ll need to do is wash the would with soap and water and put a bandage on it.

So, here’s what you do if you experience a Hognose Snake bite.

  1. Remain calm. Having a loud/panicking reaction could scare the snake.
  2. Do not yank the snake off of the bite area. Sometimes, a snake will latch on once it bites. This is typical behavior of a constricting snake. Although Hognose Snakes do not constrict, they may latch on, and the last thing you want to do is injure your snake by yanking.
  3. After the bite, if the snake isn’t already back in it’s terrarium, place the snake back in it’s home so it can calm down.

Treating the Hognose snake Bite

Soap and water should do the trick. If the snake bite cause bleeding, it would be wise to apply some kind of anti-septic as well. A bandage is recommended if skin is broken.

With all that in mind, be wary that Hognose Snakes are venomous. While their venom is harmless to humans, a bite could cause slight inflammation and irritation. If this happens, we recommend seeing a doctor to have it checked out. Even then, a Hognose Snake bite is far from deadly, and hardly dangerous.

Are Hognose Snakes Venomous?

Yes, Hognose Snakes are venomous. The venom is not harmful to humans, so a bite is nothing to worry about. In fact, there’s some debate as to whether Hognose Snakes should be clasified as “venomous” or “poisonous”.

You see, venom is something that can be actively injected, and poison is something that is passively applied.

Think about poison ivy.

There’s a reason it’s not called venomous ivy. That’s because when you rub on poison ivy, the poison is passively applied as a defense mechanism.

So, why does this matter for Hognose Snakes?

Well, because they have unique fangs, and technically, they do not inject venom. For those of you who are curious, we are about to dive into some semantics about Hognose Snake fangs, and how they apply their “venom” to prey.

Hognose Snake Fangs

Unlike many venomous species of snakes, Hognose Snakes have fangs that are located in the back of their mouth.

u/the_creaky_raptor reddit.com | Gaboon Viper Showing It’s Fangs

As you can see above, Vipers, as well as most other venomous serpents, have fangs at the very front of their jaw. The reason being is mostly due to how the snakes hunt and eat. Most venomous snakes are pure hunters, and rely on a “one-shot kill” method to killing prey.

Hence, they hunt for rodents, quickly strike and inject venom, neutralize prey, and digest the food.

So, Why are Hognose Snake Fangs Different?

On the other hand, Hognose Snakes have a more foraging style of hunting.

They are not constrictors, nor are they able to strike with a debilitating blow filled with life ending venom. Rather, Hognose Snakes rely on endurance and movement to hunt down prey.

So, they are considered active foragers, and slither around looking for food on a regular basis.

While on the prowl, Hognose Snakes constantly search for prey that comes across their path or territory.

When they find, say a small mouse or big bug, they simply eat it and digest it on the spot. Their “venom” simply helps to sedate their prey, since they usually eat their meals live and on the spot.

So, the rear-placed fangs located in the back part of a Hognose Snake’s mouth are an effective biological tool that help them with their style of hunting and survival.

How “Venom” Is Applied with Hognose Snake Fangs

Again, the reason “venom” is in quotes is because there is some debate as to whether Hognose Snakes are venomous or poisonous.

To reiterated: “venom” is actively injected (think be sting), and “poison” is passively applied (think poison ivy).

So, why does this matter when it comes to the fangs of Hognose Snakes?

Here’s why:

Hognose Snakes lack the same glands that front-fanged snakes such as pit vipers and copperheads. Rather than venom injection tubes running through the center of their fangs, Hognose Snakes have grooved fangs which the venom runs along.

So, the question is: do Hognose Snakes “inject” the venom, or is it “applied” as a result of the venom being located on an external grove of the fang?

That’s up for debate. In any case, does it really matter? Some people think so.

Frankly, the point of all this is to know that Hognose Snake bites are nothing to worry about, even though they do have fangs and “venom”.

Most Common Times Bites Occur

There are two main times bites occur with any pet snake. During these times, owners should be mindful that your snake is likely under some kind of stress.

With that in mind, it’s important to handle and treat your snake with care during these times.

The two times that bites usually occur are:

  1. Around feeding time. Hognose snakes tend to be “nippy” around feeding time. In fact, they will usually tell you when they are hungry by slithering toward you with their mouth open. See picture above — that’s a great example of a Hognose Snake telling you that it’s hungry. Unfortunately, our fingers can somewhat resemble a baby feeder mouse, and sometimes the snakes can mistake them for their dinner. It’s best to exercise precaution when feeding, and we recommend using feeder tongs to prevent any strikes to hands.
  2. During the shedding process. Snakes tend to get more sensitive during their shedding process. While not painful, their new, fresh layer of scales are “raw”, and snakes are known to be more ornery during this process. It’s best to give your snake space when it sheds, and doing so could prevent possible striking.

Warning Signs

The biggest warning sign to adhere to when it comes to Hognose Snake bites is their open mouth. As mentioned, Hognose Snakes will “come at you” with their mouth open when they are hungry.

You’ll want to be cautious when they do this, because sometimes they can mistake your fingers for prey.

Unfortunately, this is one of the only warning signs you’ll be able to pickup. Since Hognoses are foraging snakes and don’t constrict, they won’t coil up like a Ball Python when feeling threatened or striking prey

In fact, Hognose Snakes tend to play dead when feeling threatened.

Best Ways to Prevent a Hognose Snake Bite

  • Avoid handling around feeding time
  • Handle with precaution during shedding time
  • Make sure others who handle your Hognose Snake are calm, and not jumpy
  • Handle your Hognose on a regular basis so they become accustomed to being held by humans
  • Try not to handle your snake in large crowds, or around a lot of commotion or people. Sometimes, the vibrations and noise can irritate or scare snakes if they aren’t used to it
  • Keep an eye out for the main warning sign of a Hognose striking — coming at you with an open mouth

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4 thoughts on “Hognose Snake Bite. Does it Hurt? What You Should Know”

  1. I have just taken delivery of a baby albino hognose today, i have royal pythons also. when it was delivered it was very cold, so i went to put it back in the delivery case and try and warm it up a bit, it grabbed hold of the end of my finger and had a good chew for a few seconds. i am not concerned about the bite, more the fact it bit. Is this usual if they are cold or i suppose maybe stressed from the travelling?? It was in a box in another box, is it just a case of keep handling it till it calms down or should i leave it for week to get used to its new surroundings?

    • David, the bite likely occurred due to travel stress and the stress of a new environment. I’m sorry to hear your Hognose Snake bit you. Also, snakes are cold blooded, so often times they will feel cold to the touch. After a while, many pet snakes enjoy being handled because they like the warmth emitted from human skin. Give em time! It’ll eventually become more comfortable in it’s new surroundings.

      • Cheers Jesse, she has fed a few times and she is much better now. It has lots of character and comes as soon as you open the viv.

        • Cheers David — glad to hear she is showing her personality. Hope you enjoy her company for many, many years to come!


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