The southern hognose snake is a secretive species and is rarely spotted in the wild, spending much of its time in underground in burrows, 20 to 30 centimetres below the surface. It is thought to be diurnal, emerging from its burrow in early morning or late afternoon (4) (11).
Little is known about the southern hognose snake’s breeding biology, and most of the available information has been obtained through studying captive animals. The breeding season is thought to be from May to June, and the female southern hognose snake will lay a clutch of 6 to 14 eggs from late spring to early summer. The eggs take 65 to 70 days to hatch and the hatchlings emerge between mid-September and early October (4) (7).
Contrary to popular belief, the southern hognose snake does not produce toxic venom and it is not considered to be a dangerous species, although it does have a painful bite (12). It feeds mainly on toads, which it digs out of loose soil using its upturned snout. It then grasps the prey using its enlarged rear fangs (4) (6) (11). Although toads form the majority of the southern hognose snake’s diet, it also feeds on other small vertebrates such as lizards, mice and frogs (7).
To deter predators, the southern hognose snake uses a variety of defensive behaviours including puffing up its head, flattening its neck, hissing continuously and pretending to strike. The snake also employs an alternative strategy, rolling onto its back and playing dead. The southern hognose snake’s defensive display is less elaborate than that of other hognose snakes (4) (6) (11).