Posted by Sadie from D006045.N1.Vanderbilt.Edu (188.8.131.52) on Saturday, August 23, 2003 at 0:30AM :
In Reply to: ***Nuna&Kelba*** posted by Alexander from 184.108.40.206.cfl.rr.com (220.127.116.11) on Friday, August 22, 2003 at 11:25PM :
Reminds me of a snake I've heard about around here. Hognosed snakes, so named for their little pug noses, have a scare tactic & a play-dead routine which they use to con predators/attackers. They can fan out the skin around their heads like a cobra & hiss & make almost-bite swipes at an attacker. If that doesn't work, the snake wallows around a bit on the ground & then plays dead. They are completely harmless & are just the most adorable little things! & you know, they have GOT to be intelligent to act this way.... It's clever like the fish in the story because it knows how to act in dangerous situations....
Heterodon platyrhinos will fan its head and neck much like a cobra when alarmed. Loud and prolonged hissing is accompanied by short jabs with the head as often away from the attacker as toward it. The snake will not open its mouth to bite, and hognose snake bites originating from defense are rare. Even a large 43 inch specimen I found in Johnson County would not bite, but it acted as though it would.
If the attacker continues to press upon the hognose, it will open its mouth, writhe as if in pain and finally roll onto its back with its mouth open and tongue hanging out. It cannot be induced to move. Because the snake keeps its mouth open during the entire death scene, lining at the back of the mouth closes off the opening to the esophagus to prevent the swallowing of dirt. This is also aided by an increase in saliva production, which may run out of the mouth (readily seen when the snake is picked up), taking much of the dirt with it. If it is righted, it immediately rolls onto its back again. Not until the snake feels safe will it right itself and continue on with its normal activities. Eastern hognose snakes are more elaborate with their act than the western hognose, and even though they will perform the act in captivity for a longer period of time, they soon quit acting in captivity.
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