This ‘zombie snake’ found in NC pretends to be dead. Be careful picking it up.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Mark Price//The Charlotte Observer) - Beware of seemingly dead snakes in North Carolina.
There are six venomous species to fear in the state, including rattlesnakes and copperheads. But it’s one of the seemingly harmless nonvenomous species that is unpredictable enough to count as a “zombie snake,” according to a June 6 post by the N.C. Department of Parks and Recreation.
The eastern hognose snake, which grows up to 4 feet, is “famous” for playing dead when the mood strikes it, the parks department said. They are nonvenomous and rarely bite, but could be brutal for the faint of heart when miraculously springing back to life.
The state’s post featured multiple photos of the snake flipped over on its back, looking perfectly 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,” according to Herpsofnc.org.
Worse still, hognose snakes are also known for flaring their neck like a cobra when threatened, and “they may strike repeatedly,” says the site. That habit has earned them the name “puff adder,” says Herpsofnc.
The cobra-like look has given rise to countless myths, reports the Florida Museum, including folklore that a “hognose snake can mix venom with its breath and is thus able to kill a person from a distance of twenty-five feet.”
“In truth, its breath is harmless,” says the museum.
Another oddity of the species: It has large fangs at the back of its mouth that pop its prey “like a balloon,” according to the Florida Museum.