Common names for Heterodon nasicus include blow snake, bluffer, faux viper, plains hognose snake, prairie hognose snake, spoonbill snake, spreadhead snake, Texas hognose snake, Texas rooter, and western hognose snake.
The western hognose snake is a relatively small, stout-bodied snake. Its color and pattern is highly variable between subspecies, although most specimens appear much like rattlesnakes to the untrained eye, which appears to be Batesian Mimicry. Males are considerably smaller than females, with adults rarely exceeding a total length (including tail) of 40–50 cm (15–20 inches). This snake gets its common name, “hognose”, from the modified rostral (nose) scale that is formed in an upturned manner, providing a very “hog-like” look. Additionally, this adaptation makes these snakes adept burrowers.
The species is not dangerous to humans, but there exists scientific debate regarding whether the mild toxins in the hognose’s bite result from saliva, harmful to its preferred wild food source – toads– or an extremely mild venom produced in glands connecting to the hognose’s minuscule rear fangs. In either case, no deaths or systemic effects from the extremely rare bite from this rear-fangedhave been recorded. Although bites may uncommonly be medically significant, the species is not regarded as venomous.
In captivity, the species has been bred into about 52 different “designer” color morphs.