A dramatic snake that acts like a cobra when threatened was photographed during a rare sighting at a Texas state park earlier this week.
“Today, we had one of the more rare sightings amongst snakes, an eastern hognose, crossing the Creekfield Trail,” the Brazos Bend State Park with Texas Parks and Wildlife posted to Facebook on May 19.
The photos of the orange and black snake show the slithering critter impressively mimicking a cobra by flattening out the skin around its neck and raising its head puff, the state park wrote.
“Yes, (these) snakes are known for being quite the little actors,” the park added in a comment on the post.
“Their first line of defense tends to be what you see in the pictures here,” wildlife officials said. “They will make themselves look larger, raise their heads, and flatten the skin of their necks to mimic a cobra.”
They’ll usually hiss, too, which leads to their nicknames — hissing or puff adders, Texas Parks and Wildlife wrote in a 2011 magazine article.
The harmless eastern hognose snakes want you to think they are deadly and venomous — but they are not, the magazine article says.
In an attempt to fool you, “the snake may even lunge as if to bite but with its mouth closed,” the article continues.
If that “warning” doesn’t scare you away, the snake will “resort (to) a more dramatic act,” Brazos Bend State Park said.
“They will play dead by laying on their back and even hanging their tongue out the side of their mouth (you know, for dramatic effect), also they can spray a foul, musky smell to really appear dead and deter predators from wanting them,” the comment continued.
If the hognose does decide to “strike and bite,” its rear fangs in the back its jaw may inject a mild venom — but it’s not harmful to humans, the state park said.
The snakes, which can vary in color, usually measure between 20 to 33 inches long and prefer to be in “loose, sandy soil not far from water,” according to Texas Parks and Wildlife.
“Using its snout, a hognose burrows and hunts for meals in the dirt,” the article continued. “Toads most often fall prey, along with frogs and salamanders. The snake’s backward-pointing teeth prevent victims from escaping.”
The species can survive “the otherwise lethal skin secretions of toads” thanks to its enlarged adrenal glands, the state department said.
“Hognoses are amazing snakes, and truly impressive creatures, but just a reminder, if you spot one of these beauties out in the wild, admire them and take some pictures, but keep at a distance and let them be,” Brazos Bend State Park said. “Remember, we want to respect our animals and keep them wild.”