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Are Western Hognose Snakes Venomous?

So you purchased a Western Hognose Snake at the Reptile Expo or from a pet shop and have read terrifying accounts of this snakes venom. So are Western Hognose Snakes venomous?

Fangs

Western Hognose Snakes have enlarged teeth toward the rear of their mouths. These teeth are not grooved as is the case with a Boomslang. The rear teeth of a Western Hognose Snake are not hollow as in the case of viper fangs and cannot inject venom.

Venom

Western Hognose Snakes along with many other Colubrids produce a toxic salvia in a gland called the Duvernoy’s Gland. The Duvernoy’s Gland is not a venom gland it is a modified salivary gland.  This toxic saliva cannot be stored as in the case of a Viper or Cobra. The saliva of a Western Hognose Snake does not contain cytotoxins, neurotoxins or haemotoxins that are harmfull to people. There has never been a death caused by a Western Hognose Snake bite.

Reactions to a Bite from a Western Hognose Snake

There are cases of Western Hognose Snakes bites causing mild allergic reaction, similar to a wasp or hornet sting. Reactions from a Western Hognose Snake bite are usually the result of the snake confusing fingers for food and the snake keeper watching his/her Hognose Snake chew his/her finger for several minutes usually while taking a video of the bite to put on Youtube. Western Hognose Snakes are small and the rear teeth are unlikely to Peirce your flesh with a quick defensive strike. A reaction from a Western Hognose Snake bite is very unlikely to involve a trip to the ER and any swelling or pain should disappear with a day or two.

How Western Hognose Snakes Feed

Western Hognose Snakes eat toads in the wild which do not fight back. The snake grasps the toad and begins chewing cutting open the toads flesh with its enlarged teeth. The toxic saliva drips into the wounds created by the rear teeth, subduing the prey. Pre-Killed mice should be fed to Western Hognose Snakes as an adult rodent could bite the snake while it is trying to chew in the slow acting toxic saliva.

Verdict

In America where Western Hognose Snakes are native they are not considered venomous. Despite forums placing them as mildly venomous and some pet shops putting then in the venomous section of their websites, your newly purchased Western Hognose Snake is highly unlikely to cause a medical problem if it bites you. You are more likely to get a serious reaction from a scorpions sting or Bird Eating Spider Bite than from a Western Hognose Snake bite. Feeding your Western Hognose Snake with tongs will avoid a bit of swelling and mild pain.