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Sinaloa   FloridaHerps01  

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 Semi-moist Sand substrate experiment for hognose

Listening to field herpers who live in Western hognose range, it is clear that these snakes occupy sandy soils that hold their burrows. The sand is usually slightly base in PH.

I could not get any of alkaline sand where I live. Playsand is rounded (safer than building sand) but has rather large grains that drain mositure very fast, and calcium sand is too sharp. I did what I have done for kingsnakes and mixed coir substrate with playsand to allow for a very sandy soil that holds moisture better/longer. Although I really want the very fine-grain slightly alkaline sand of many W. hognose habitats, I tried this compromise to see what happens and placed a piece of pine board on top.

The hognose makes burrows into the soil and under the board. The snake will disappear for long periods sometimes, but always comes out at a certain time to look for food. Really interesting to watch him use the cage setup. I use overhead heating at the moment to heat the board. Undercage heat will work just as well. The snake will not dry out as long as the substrate is kept slightly moist under the surface. Depth is about 3.5 inches, hoggie is a year old and small.

Unfortunately this kind of setup requires more maintenance time than aspen shavings. Thought I would share. Dry sand as a substrate is not good and probably irritates skin and eyes. A sandy soil that holds some moisture is far better if anyone is interested in trying something other than aspen ( I must admit, aspen is a good all-around substrate and easier to clean).

08/22/14  01:57pm


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  Message To: Sinaloa   In reference to Message Id: 2308787

 Semi-moist Sand substrate experiment for hognose

Hello. I too have had similar results and findings. I first got the idea from an older Herpetologist that spends hours and hours studying Western Hognose Snakes in the wild and in captivity to learn more about their natural history and differences between wild and captive H. nascius.

I have done similarly with my single Western Hognose and 2 Eastern Hognose Snakes. I have found that burrowing is more prevalent in the Western species, whereas the Eastern prefers moderate digging to help then get into secure surface hiding areas.

Moist sand is better to help hold burrow shape, but care must be exercised when people read this and intend to follow this method. The sand must be just damp enough to hold shape, no more. The issue arises in that hognose snakes are more susceptible to moisture sores, potentially resulting in infections, than colubrids such as Lampropeltis, Pantherophis, and Nerodia. In the wild they burrow among root systems and rocks that help assist in burrow formation.

I have also noted though that dry sand does not negatively affect the snakes (Heterodon). For about 7 months before keeping the sand moist I had the sand dry. The snakes were all fine and had no abrasions on the skin -- just a note :)

09/27/14  02:21pm

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