Greetings! I am a colubrid breeder (corn snakes, western/plains hognose, and tricolor hognose), and as we enter baby season I know (and hope!) many will be getting their introduction to the personality-plus hognose. Over the years, we’ve compiled a list of DOs and DO NOTs for the juvenile hoggie to help new owners and their new additions be as successful as possible. We include this as a print out with our shipments, but thought it would be good to share here as well.
Note while this is written with baby snakes we produced ourselves in mind, it is applicable to most (if not all) producedby fellow breeders, and a lot of this is applicable to adults and subadults as well.
If you have any questions, fire away! I’m decades from what I’d call an expert, but I’ve learned a lot over the years and am happy to share while continuing learning from others.
DO NOT handle your hognose for AT LEAST a week, and NOT AT ALL until s/he has had a minimum of 2-3 problem-free feedings with you.
DO NOT offer food the first 24 hours. Leave them completely alone—let them settle in.
DO NOT move to feed : Many hogs are stressed by the environment change.
DO NOT offer a pinkie on tongs and wave it in front of them . While some eventually will eagerly eat off tongs, some others are deeply offended by it.
DO NOT place your baby in a large - to - them exposed enclosure , such as a 10 gallon tank. Baby hogs like things very confined and “hidden” to feel secure. We recommend nothing larger than a 5 gallon with at least 3 sides blacked out at first.
DO NOT take the pinkie away after just a couple hours. If not on a hot spot, pinkies can be left as long as 24 hours without ill effect. Some snakes prefer to eat in the quiet of the night.
DO NOT resort to scenting. Unless otherwise specified, your snake is on unscented f/t. If they are off food, it is extremely unlikely because of a change in scent preference.
DO NOT offer food more frequently than every 4 days, even if they refuse. Hatchling hogs can go months—literally, months—not eating without ill effect.
DO NOT offer food when in shed, at least during its first cycle with you. Wait until the shed cycle is complete.
- DO offer a frozen/thawed unscented 48-72 hours after arrival.
DO offer the pinkie in their enclosure on something like a deli cup lid to limit substrate ingestion.
DO place the pinkie near your hog, but not so close as to make them defensive. Leave overnight, up to 24 hours.
DO place the enclosure in a quiet location in the house and provide multiple hides and at least 1-2” of bedding. (Believe it or not, at this age, a small tub in a rack is ideal.)
DO offer food every 4 days or so. If they refuse, just wait until the next scheduled feeding day and offer again.
Thanks for this, it is definitely something that will help future hognose keepers like my self. Bookmark worthy
I’m definitely new to the hognose breed. Mine is about 6 months old. The breeder I got him from was feeding 1/wk. to me that’s seemed a little sparse. In your opinion should I move him down to every 4 days
He looks to be in good shape and size, so feeding every 4-8 days should be fine. My guess is day 3 after feeding he’s already looking for the next meal.
For the most part all the non venomous and somewhat warm snakes I want to own are colubrids (I’m not into pythons/boas and cant have hots so… ) This info is helpful. Maybe one day I will get a snake (I currently have nvr had any herp ever). Thanks!!
Awesome. Thanks. Yeah he’s a little chunk. From day one he’s always eaten real well for me.
Thanks for this awesome guide! Very informative.
The enclosure was definitely the thing that was the hardest thing to find info on, a lot of care guides are written by Americans so they refer to an x quart tub, which didn’t make sense to me lol but a 5 gallon is more understandable. I also saw some conflicting opinions on whether a baby hognose would be fine in a bigger enclosure with enough hides but now I’m leaning towards getting a small baby enclosure for my future bby.
I do not necessarily agree with this one. All of our hogs will quite happily eat when in shed so I think it is more down to the individual animal
I would also add
- DO NOT let your hognose bite/chew on you. People like to pretend that this is a “cute” thing but the fact of the matter is that these animal are opistoglyphs and the venom from them can be very bad for some people
Oh, very true about eating when in shed–about half of my 50+ don’t care where they are in a shed cycle, FOOOOOOD!
The list of DOs/DO NOTs was written with the new owner and their new baby hognose in mind. Babies are more sensitive in general and some just go NOPE as soon as the cycle begins. I’ve had a few worried customers continue to offer food when their snake is in shed and refusing, and it created additional stress that compounded the nonfeeding problem.
To clarify–the list is not meant to be a strict list of commandments for general care as hogs vary pretty widely as individuals. The goal in writing the DOs/DO NOTs was to help the owner and snake be as successful as possible in their new home and limit/omit potential stressors that could trigger the change-sensitive baby to go off food.
This is a fantastic. I’ve seen a couple care guides but never a Do/Do not list. Perhaps a short blurb about attitude would be helpful as well? The sassiness and hissing can catch some people off guard.
Thank you so much for the list! Unfortunately, after my Baby Hog not eating for literal months and starting to loose some weight i resorted to scenting with tuna… Any tips to get him off of it?
(He’s been a good eater ever since ^^°)
Thanks in advance!
Ah, the scented feeder. With ours, we always offer them unscented prey first. If it is uneaten after a couple hours, we scent the mouse. Usually the snakes transition to u/s on their own over time–they just one day decide to and usually don’t go back. (That said, there are those individuals of all ages that will randomly switch to scented out of nowhere then switch back…because hognose.)
If they’re stubbornly locked on scented, I use less and less scent each time. Eventually they all usually switch–emphasis on the usually.
Really great post. I have my first two hognose snakes and its so nice to see reminders on the right care, reinforcements for what you are doing right and tips to consider when things are going sideways for you. Thanks for taking the time to share this.
As babies have been hatching and selling and the “baby hognose won’t eat” type posts start to appear, I thought it might be worth bumping this post.
A reminder: hognose snakes vary quite widely as individuals, moreso than other species. You may see folks posting pics of their happily eating baby hog in a 10 or 20 gallon glass tank and wonder what you’re doing wrong. It’s not you! Some hogs don’t care. Many hogs do. Until you know what flavor of hog you have, it’s best to start conservative and small then gradually move up than start too big, stress the snake, then have to stress the snake again when moving them down to a smaller enclosure.
It doesn’t mean you aren’t doing your best. It just means your snake has different needs, because…hognose.
Thank you so much for this post. I wish I had read it first as I have failed nearly all the don’t list in the first week of owning my baby hog.
I got the enclosure size and hides right but failed most of the other things.
While he hasn’t wanted to eat yet he seems very happy to explore is small sterlite enclosure.
I assume he’s okay but I will wait 4 days to a week to try and feed again. He left his pinky alone for 24 hours so I just through it out.
That said I’m starting over now as if it’s the first day following the do and don’t list.
Thank you again for the tips.
I just got my first hoggie last week, he’s a 5month old male. I got him settled into his new home and left a pinkie 2 days later for him to eat, which he ignored. His new home is the size of a shoebox with lots of hide and enrichment but he’s been hiding under his water dish since I got him. It’s towards the middle but on the cooler side of the enclosure and his temps seem good. Is he just stressed and getting used to his environment or is something wrong?
Wait at least a couple more weeks before you attempt another feeding. Leave him completely alone as well except to change water. It sounds like you have him set up correctly. He just needs to adjust to his new surroundings. Don’t stress!
Definitely agree with @caron, leave him completely alone for at least a week or two. You can change his water, but aside from that, just let him decompress and get used to his new home. Don’t handle him, don’t make changes to his bin, just let him be. He’s been through some big changes lately and is going to be a little stressed. Trying to feed him too soon or too frequently can increase that stress. Let him settle in for a bit before trying to feed him again.
Remember that snakes, even tiny ones, can go quite some time between meals. Once he’s settled in and is eating for you, then you can start handling him and getting to know each other.
I know it’s hard to leave a new baby alone. Trust me, I get it. It’s the hardest part of getting a new snake for me. I just want to hold them and feed them and love them! But they really do benefit from just having some time to settle in and get used to their new digs.
Hi, planning to purchase Hognose soon. I have read the whole list and comments, while I would have a question about it. When leaving the snake for a few weeks without human interaction, won’t it become “wild” and aggressive towards humans and handling?