A mild-mannered critter that is indigenous to the state of North Carolina has park officials alerting the public as to its presence. The critter often plays dead to defend itself from its known predators. No, we are not talking about an opossum—but a zombie snake.
The snake’s given official name is the Eastern Hognose snake. However, it has been given the nickname of zombie snake because it will often lay on its back while pretending to be dead when it feels at all threatened. The snake can be identified by its brown or grey coloring with dark brown blotches.
The park department recently posted to its Facebook page about the zombie snakes:
“Instead of watching clouds,” the post began, “let’s play a game. Who is this ‘famous’ NC snake? A Cobra? A zombie snake? It’s a harmless one.”
Although there is a legend that the zombie snake can shoot its venom up to 25 feet in distance, there has been no actual proof that this occurs. In fact, the hognose snake possesses a venom that is mild but will allow the snake to overcome its food, such as toads, before swallowing them whole. To date, the zombie snakes venom has never been known to be toxic to humans, as reported by the Long Island Herpetological Society.
The society also notes that the snakes are very mild in disposition, and are rarely if ever known to bite. However, if they feel threatened, they tend to be drama queens and put on quite the show. They will hiss loudly, and expand their neck area out just like a cobra—which has earned them the additional nicknames of ‘puff adder’ or ‘spreading adder,’ as stated by the Amphibians and Reptiles of North Carolina.
They are not known to bite during these grandiose displays, but they will attempt to strike repeatedly. When that tactic doesn’t work, they will feign deck by rolling over on their backs and writhing around. It is worth noting that the largest recorded Eastern Hognose snake grew to 45.5 inches long.