While mowing the grass this morning I came across a welcome visitor: a hognose snake. When disturbed, these harmless hams put on a great show. First comes the hissing and puffing. They inflate their already fat bodies to twice their normal girth, then expel the air with an intimidating hiss. To enhance the menacing illusion, they flatten their heads in a cobra-like display. Sound scary? It's all a bluff; they don't even bite people!
If the scare tactics fail, hognose snakes have one more card to play: they will often play dead, flipping onto their backs, convulsing and flopping their tongues onto the dirt before "expiring." The funniest part is that if you flip them over, they will roll onto their backs again as if to say, "no, really, I'm dead." As kids, my brothers and I loved seeing how many times we could get these snakes to roll over.
I was hoping this one would go through the whole act, but all he did was huff and puff...and poop all over my hands. I kept him inside long enough to finish mowing and snap a few pictures before returning him to the yard so he could hunt for toads tonight. Hognose snakes use their upturned snouts to dig into toad burrows and pull out their prey.