Arkansas Nature Trivia

How a Hognose Snake Consumes a Toad

The primary food of the eastern hognose snake (Heterodon platyrhinos) are toads (Bufo sp.).

Upon capture, the toad is oriented to get the head of the toad into the mouth of the snake. The toad responds by puffing up with air to become larger and therefore harder to swallow.

Teeth in the mouth of the snake point backward, so it is difficult for the prey to pull free. The hognose is equipped with a larger tooth at the back of both maxillary bones (upper jaws) that penetrates the back of the toad and punctures the lungs, causing the toad to deflate.

This picture shows greater detail of the above photo. Notice the blood from the toad's punctured lungs. Sometimes the blood will bubble due to air escaping from the lungs.

Now smaller, the toad is more easily swallowed. The snake slowly eats by moving the jaws on each side of its head progressively forward and locking the teeth into the prey while the other side of the jaw is moved forward.

 

The process continues until the legs...

 

and feet...

and toes are gone.

 

Finally, the toad is in the snake's belly ready to be digested.