Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Hunting Hogs

The Eastern Hognose Snake is a challenging species to find in the field, and is my personal nemesis. Before last October, I had only seen one in my lifetime. Then I cashed in on one at Snake Road last fall and then finally got one in Michigan earlier this spring. Hognose snakes are a tough species to figure out, as they are likely found throughout the lower peninsula where good habitat exists. I had always associated them to be in the western and northern reaches of the state, but recently I've found that they can be found even in suburban southeast Michigan as I found my first one in Michigan since I was a kid less than ten miles from my house earlier in the spring. Last Friday, I had an open afternoon and decided to head down to an area I frequent in hopes of finding some snakes on the move. I've seen quite a few species in the area including Blue Racers, Northern Ribbon Snakes, and Northern Red-bellied Snakes, so I was hoping I could score on of these species driving roads like this one.

After cruising a few Eastern Garter Snakes, I went past a snake on the edge of the road that had some wild patterning on it. I didn't get a great look at it, but had no idea what it was based on the brief glimpse I had gotten. So I backed up and looked over to see this flattened on the side of the road.

A DOR Hog, right there. I'd been herping this area for a few years now and have suspected that Hogs were in the area, but hadn't seen a clear sign of one until this day. It was a beautiful yellow/orange color and had likely been hit an hour or two before I arrived. The snake was in decent shape, so I bagged it up and brought it back to my place where it is now a part of the herp collection at CMU's Museum of Natural History. I was a little discouraged after finding the snake, but it was a bittersweet feeling to know that hogs were definitely in the area. I decided to keep driving roads in hopes of finding some more snakes on the road. A large Blue Racer crossed the road about 30 yards in front of me, but I wasn't able to get to it in time. Later on in the afternoon, I turned down a road I've been down many times and noticed a fat snake moving across the road.

Sometimes it's better to be lucky than to be good at something. In this case, I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. I couldn't believe that right there in front of my car was a live hog, less than an hour after seeing a DOR. I jumped out as quickly as I could and ran over to begin snapping some shots, the snake lived up to its reputation and put on quite a show.

Eastern Hognose Snake - Heterodon platirhinos

pissed off...


This snake was an awesome surprise and one of my favorite finds of the year. Hognose snakes are an awesome species, and I wish I got to see them more often. But seeing two live and one dead in Michigan this year is pretty good in my book. It seems that this species is almost impossible to target, and they just sort of show up randomly from time to time. Perhaps I should take up birding in good areas without looking for them, then more would show up I'm sure. That's all of now. Until next time, happy herping!


  1. Awesome post buddy. Must be a great feeling to discover a seemingly healthy population in the area!

  2. +1 that it is better to be lucky than good. Although, bad herpers just stay at home waiting for the perfect day, the definite spot, the sure thing, etc...

  3. What a great site. I couldn't stop reading. We have a large amount of deadly snakes in Australia. Actually, I think we might have the most in the world?

  4. What a strange looking snake. Great site mate.