Conventional knowledge dictates that hognose snakes need minimum 1 sq ft per 1 ft of snake length. Key word here is minimum. As long as a snake has sufficient cover and the right temperature gradient, even a hatchling can be comfortable in something larger than a Kritter Keeper.
- Hatchlings under 6″ (16 cm) long can be housed in a 5 gallon (16″x8″x10″ or 40x20x25 cm).
- Juveniles can be housed in a 10 gallon (20″x10″x12″ or 50x28x33 cm) until they are 1 year old.
- Adult males can be housed in a minimum 20 gallon (30″x13″x13″ or 76x33x33 cm) enclosure.
- For Easterns and adult female Westerns, 40 gallons (36″x18″16″ or 90x45x40 cm) is a more appropriate minimum.
The enclosure must be large enough to allow its occupant enough space to stretch out and exercise, as hognose snakes are very active when given the opportunity. But it also needs to be large enough to create an appropriate temperature gradient for the snake to thermoregulate with. Without a good temperature gradient, a hognose can’t regulate its body temperature and can get sick. (More information about temperature gradients on the next page!)
Types of Hognose Snake Enclosures
Glass enclosures can house a hognose well enough, especially when they are designed to be front-opening, but glass is terrible at holding heat efficiently. The clear sides are also known for stressing reptiles out, so 3 sides should be blacked out with construction paper or other opaque material installed on the outside.
Wood and melamine enclosures work well for hognose snakes because there is little to no danger of crumbling/mold from water damage. These enclosures are also built to open in front, making them quite convenient. Wood and melamine have the additional benefit of being lighter than glass — although to be honest, just about any enclosure material is lighter than glass.
Plastic/PVC enclosures are preferred by many snake owners because they are extremely durable, and the most lightweight material available. These are also designed to be front-opening. They can be more expensive than the other options, but their sheer longevity makes the investment worthwhile.
Tubs are not recommended for North American hognose snakes. While humidity is not a concern, tubs are limited in terms of the light and space they can offer. Diurnal species need a source of bright light, which is not always possible with traditional tub and rack systems.
Securing the Enclosure
Although hognose snakes are fossorial, they have still been known to escape from their enclosures without the right precautions — especially the tiny babies. The best way to prevent an escape is to secure the lid properly. Whatever you do, DON’T USE TAPE! Tape is notorious for injuring snakes who accidentally come in contact with its sticky side.
If you’re using a glass aquarium, invest in at least 4 (more are required for larger tanks) lid clamps to keep it firmly in place.
If you’re using a front-opening terrarium, a lock or latch will keep it secured.
If you’re using a tub, make sure that it has a latching lid.
If you’re using a rack system, make sure that the top of the tub is flush with the rack, and that the snake is unable to push the tub out on its own.
Finally, if your snake still somehow manages to escape, here are some tips for finding a lost snake.
Can you keep two or more hognoses in the same enclosure?
While hognoses are not considered a particularly territorial species, they do live solitary lives in the wild, only coming in contact with other members of its species during mating season. Outside of this time, hognoses do not seek each other out for company, and they are rarely found sharing the same burrow.
In other words, cohabiting two or more hognoses is not recommended or necessary, and will most likely end up unnecessarily stressing the snakes involved if attempted.