Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Hognose Snake by the Side of the Road

Broad-winged Hawk Kettling Over Maxville

Spring visited the Lower Chippewa River Valley today.  Not a cloud in the sky.  Temps in the 60s.   I hopped in the Prius and headed out to see who's out - before spring goes into hiding again tomorrow.

And what a day it was!

Barn Swallows on Kings Highway.  Hawks kettling over the coulees - with surprisingly good looks at Broad-wings.   The midge emergence is over.  Only a few Yellow-rumps flitting around in the trees, hawking insects in the popping buds.  The first warbler wave has moved on.

Butterflies were out and flitting on Rustic Road 107.  Very flighty - difficult to get close enough for an identification.  Nearly impossible to get a good photo.

"Spring" Spring Azure
Mustard White
Gray Comma

I pulled over to take a photo of an orange butterfly and as I walked in front of my Prius, I discovered this big brown snake sunning itself in the grass.

Hognose Snake

I didn't recognize it right away, so I carefully moved in closer to take some photos.  As I did, the snake made like a cobra!  I kid you not.  Right in front of me.  Out came the cowl, then an audible "hissss" as the snake lifted its head off the ground and flicked its tongue out.

Eastern Hognose Snake
Eastern Hognose Snake
Eastern Hognose Snake
Eastern Hognose Snake
Eastern Hognose Snake

Eastern Hognose Snake

Eastern Hognose Snake

There shouldn't be any cobras in Wisconsin, and this snake had round eyes.   I knew it wasn't venomous.   But what is it?  

The "frightening" display and a stubby snout are all the clues I needed.  It's an Eastern Hognose also known as a "puff adder."   If the cobra routine doesn't scare you off, the Hognose might try its "roll over and play dead" routine.  This one didn't - it was all huff and puff.  

And then it took off and disappeared in the prairie grasses.  



  1. I saw one come out of the water near Spooner, WI. Scarred the crap out of my sister and I. It had its head up looking like a cobra hissed at us never looked at us just went into his hole. Nice to finally figure out what it was.