Why Is My Hognose Snake Not Eating?

Even though hognose snakes are known for their voracious appetite, it is not uncommon for some of them to go off of food. 

Hognose snakes can be sensitive to the slightest changes, and your hognose snake may not be eating due to environmental, handling issues or even the fact your snake is in brumation. 

Thankfully, you can quickly understand that it’s normal for a snake not to eat or correct it and get your snake eating again.

Be sure that your snake is not ill or you notice any dehydrations signs or severe weight loss, then you can run through the list and advice below. However, if your snake is showing signs of illness, then you should contact a specialist vet as soon as possible.

Diet Choices

If your hognose snake goes off of food, you need to consider whether you are giving them the right kind of food in the first place. Even though rodents are the most popular snake food, it is not the only option. It would be best to keep that in mind while choosing the food for your hognose snake. 

Please don’t feed your snake live food, as it is cruel to the rodent. The rodent can also harm your snake. Also, some snakes owners have even said that the snake can be scared of live food.

If you have a young hognose snake, it could be down to the simple fact that they are not used to eating rodents yet. Young hognose snakes especially do not like to eat live and frozen rodents at first, but in time they do.

Hognose snakes diet is more an amphibian type diet. Small amphibians can be a common alternative food source for your hognose snake whilst you’re getting them accustomed to eating rodents.

The western hognose snakes love to eat toads, while the Eastern hognose snakes tend to feed on amphibians like frogs and are particularly fussy with their food. 

Amphibians are still small enough for the snake to consume safely. So, if your hognose snake stops eating altogether, you need to consider whether you should change the diet of your pet snake or do half and half. 

For example, if you feed live rodents, stop feeding them live and get some frozen rodents instead, thaw them out and then offer them to your snake.

If you feed your snake frozen mice already, try a toad or a frog instead. However, they can be challenging to purchase and are much more expensive than mice.

Or you can do half and half. In time, your snake will start to like rodents.

Also, the size of the food your offering is something to bear in mind.

Recommended Read: Can A Snake Die From Eating Something To Big?

Enclosure Size

Most people want to provide the best enclosure for their pets as pet owners. The size of the terrarium is one of the most common reasons for a hognose snake to go off its food. In most cases, the hognose snake stops eating because its enclosure is too big.

Sometimes snake owners think that having more space for their pet snake is good for them. Even though a large enclosure can be more places to hide, a hognose snake can get very stressed and overwhelmed due to the large area and stop eating altogether. 

And vice versa, the enclosure could be too small for your snake. 

Moving enclosures for a snake is a stressful time. You should complete a slow transition between the enclosure sizes if you think the enclosure is too small or too big. However, I would add this to the bottom of the list of checks why your snake isn’t eating. 

The Best Tank Size for You Hognose Snake

Depending on the size of your hognose, they can be housed in 20 to 40-gallon tanks. Anything over or under will be the wrong size.

Remember that all snakes are unique and have different personalities and preferences.


The enclosure’s temperature can be another critical factor in why your hognose snake refuses food. The hognose snake becomes most comfortable when the enclosure temperature is correct. It is always better to install a thermostat on your heat source to check for temperature fluctuations.

Ideal Tank Temp Ranges For Hognose Snake

  • Basking temp: 90-95 Fahrenheit
  • Non-basking, rest of tank temp: 70-80 Fahrenheit

Breeding season

It is widespread among male hognose snakes to go off of food when they approach the mating season. 

If you have a female hognose snake as your pet, you may not notice this kind of behaviour at all. 

If you have a male hognose pet snake, be very careful about his diet. Never try to push your pet hognose snake if it stops consuming food during the mating season. 

Just keep an eye on him to ensure there is no weight loss, and he is not showing any sign of sickness.

Mating Season

Typically, the mating season of the hognose snake is not long after their brumation. The season starts beginning of May and ends around July.


Yet another common reason for the hognose snakes to go off of food is brumation. The hognose snake of both sexes can stop eating food due to this reason.

How do I know when my hognose is going through brumation?

You will know that your snake goes through brumation when it does not eat, drink, defecate, or move for several weeks.

Do all snakes need to brumate?

Brumation is usually unnecessary for captive snakes, as they have all the food and the resources like they do in the summer. Unless you are thinking of mating your snake, it can help the snakes chances of fertility. 

Snakes are cold-blooded reptiles and need to brumate to survive the lack of resources and colder temperatures in the wild.

Hognose Brumation Months

  • December through to the end of February

Recommended Read: How Often Do Snakes Shed Their Skin?

Settling In

Most of the time, when you bring a new hognose pet snake to your home, you get over-excited about it. This also happens for us snake lovers. In most cases, we do not give our snakes enough time to adjust to their new environment. 

We tend to handle our pet snakes in excitement and joy quite early. Overhandling can also make a hognose snake get very stressed and overwhelmed, leading to them not eating. 

If you think this is why your snake has stopped eating, you need to shorten the socialisation sessions and maintain minimal contact with your pet. 

Recommended Read: How Long Can A Snake Go Without Eating?

It is always better to have minimal contact with your hognose snake for the first couple of weeks after bringing it home.

Internal Parasites

Although the other reasons above why your snake has stopped eating are far more common than parasites, it’s still good to know the possibility. 

It mainly happens with wild-caught and sold hognose snakes, and you will notice some concerning signs, like diarrhoea, regurgitation, and bloody stools. If your snake is showing any or all of the above symptoms, it is better to take it to the vet right away.

Snake Facts

What do baby hognose snakes eat?

Baby snakes in the wild will eat amphibians like tiny frogs and insects, hognose snakes in captivity generally feed on mice and insects. However, they favour amphibians. That’s why sometimes your hognose snake can be a little fussy at the beginning when fed on mice. 

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By Teresa Mine

Teresa has studied canine behaviour and canine nutrition. She loves sharing her knowledge and educating through her articles. She loves binge-watching animal documentaries. Teresa has some pets; she adores two dogs, two cats, and one hamster.