The nonvenomous snake will also puff up like a cobra when provoked.
Snake Playing Dead on Back
Credit: North Carolina State Parks and Recreation

June 12, 2019

It’s always good to know your snakes, but in North Carolina the knowledge is a necessity.

The southern state is home to dozens of snakes species, including several venomous reptiles. North Carolina State Parks and Recreation recently decided to test the knowledge of North Carolinians.

“Instead of watching clouds to see if we can keep weekend weather on track, let’s play a game! Who is this ‘famous’ NC snake? A cobra? A zombie snake?” the department posted on Facebook on Thursday, along with several photos of a snake baring its belly.

For the uninitiated, the snake featured in the post above is an eastern hognose snake, also known as a puff adder, according to the Herps of NC website, a site created and updated by the Davidson College Herpetology Lab.

“When threatened, hognose snakes hiss loudly and spread their necks like cobras do, resulting in the nicknames ‘puff adder’ or ‘spreading adder,’ ” the site’s description of the snake species reads.

Though it resembles a venomous cobra, North Carolina State Parks and Recreation assures that the eastern hognose snake is “harmless.”

That doesn’t mean it’s without some seriously scary behaviors. Along with puffing up to ward off threats, this snake will also play dead.

“The hognose snake will feign death by opening its mouth, rolling over on its back, and writhing around. If turned over onto its belly, it will immediately roll again onto its back,” Herps of NC adds, which likely earned the species the nickname “zombie snake.”

If an antagonist continues to bothers the snake, it may “strike repeatedly.” These strikes will not be deadly, but there are snakes in North Carolina that can deal a fatal blow.

The state is home to eastern coral snakes, copperheads, cottonmouths and several different species of rattlesnakes. All of these snakes are venomous — a bite from one of these reptiles can lead to serious health problems and even death.

Thankfully, fatal snake bites are rare in North Carolina. According North Carolina’s Museum of Natural Sciences, snakes often don’t bite unless provoked. The best way protect yourself against snake bites is to give snakes their space, never handle a dead snake unless absolutely necessary and watch where you a place your hands and feet while out in remote areas.