Actual risk of cannibalism?

When I got back into reptiles the first thing I had to have was a hognose. There are lots of reasons why I eventually decided to focus more on ball pythons but one of the biggest is the fear that if I tried for a clutch of hognose I might lose my male to cannibalism. I know that this is a potential risk, but how big of a risk is it actually? Are there ways to avoid it? Signs that the risk may be higher during a particular pairing?

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I suspect the number of times it happens is minuscule compared to the number of pairings where it doesn’t. Or at least, that is the case here where it has never happened over the years with many many pairings. I definitely know first-hand reports of it happening though.

First tip is obvious; make sure she isn’t in food response mode when you put him in! Make sure she is awake and aware of his presence before looking away.

Second, for females who have never been paired before I make sure to make that first introduction at a time when I can be around to observe for a while.

Once I “trust” a female I don’t worry about it too much and they’ll regularly have a male in with them for multiple days and nights straight. This “trust” may come back to bite me in the future, but is how I do things.


Personally I’ve never had any cannibalism with my hognose snakes. My Mexican Black Kingsnakes are the only pair I have that have tried to kill each other.

If you put a male hognose in with a female and she starts to bob her head then you know she recognizes him and has gone into breeding mode. If you don’t see that right away it might be a good idea to keep an eye on them until you do. Generally though, I think @redridgereptiles is right to say it’s a relatively rare thing for hognose females to cannibalize a male. I’ve only ever heard of a few instances of it happening, not much compared to how often kingsnakes do it.

Another good idea is to make sure both snakes are well fed. Just give them both a big meal a few days before pairing. That’s helped with my kingsnakes and I don’t think it’s a bad idea for hognose snakes either.


It’s actually more common than most think. While I’ve not had it happen YET, I’m dreading the day it does. I watch how the hogs interact for 5 minutes before I leave them alone and check periodically as well. Once I watched two of them interact, show interest, closed the tub. Cracked it a couple minutes later to find my male trying to eat the female :roll_eyes:

I’ve had a lot of friends who’s females have eaten their males, it seems to be an annual event.

It seems a bit more common for the female to eat her eggs rather than her mate tbh. I remember talking to an old friend who woke up to only one egg being left and the rest being eaten!


I really appreciate the feedback from everyone. It’s one of those topics that you read about or see in a video and it stands out because it’s such a nightmare.