The ball python is the most popular snake pet in the US.
The hognose snake…not so much.
But maybe it should be.
The biggest similarity you see when comparing the ball python vs hognose is that both make great pets.
What else do they have in common? And what are the key differences between them?
Keep reading to find out. We are going to compare the two snake species in detail and help you figure out which one is the better pet for you.
Table of Contents
- 1 Ball Python Vs Hognose Snake
- 1.1 The Ball Python
- 1.2 The Hognose Snake
- 1.3 Differences Between Ball Pythons And Hognose Snakes
- 1.4 Similarities Between Ball Pythons And Hognose Snakes
- 1.5 Advantages Of Ball Pythons As Pets
- 1.6 Advantages Of Hognose Snakes As Pets
- 2 Hognose Snake Vs Ball Python: Final Thoughts
Ball Python Vs Hognose Snake
We will begin our comparison of the hognose snake vs the ball python by looking at each species individually, before comparing them directly. We will finish by discussing the advantages of each as a pet.
The Ball Python
Ball pythons, scientifically named Python Regius, are a species of non-venomous constrictors. They are mainly found in Africa but because of their popularity as pets, many breeders have started breeding them globally.
Ball pythons are the smallest of the pythons found in Africa. They are ambush predators, meaning they patiently wait for their prey to walk past. Once they catch their prey, they squeeze it until it cannot breathe.
Ball pythons are called so, because they tend to curl up into balls with their heads covered by their bodies.
Ball pythons come in colors like black, dark or light brown, and golden-sided, although breeders also create beautiful colored morphs like pastels, champagnes, albinos, etc. Most ball pythons grow to 4 feet long, with females being longer than males.
The Hognose Snake
Hognose snake is the general name given to five species of snakes found in the Americas. They have upturned, hog-like snouts or noses, which they use for digging.
The hognose snake is especially famous for its unique defense tactic. When threatened, it pretends to be dead, with its mouth open and tongue hanging out.
This dramatic performance has earned it the moniker Zombie Snake. Some varieties of hognose snakes even spit up blood or emit a foul odor to deter their predators.
Hognose snakes in America are named after the region in which they are found. Thus, you can have western hognose, eastern hognose, etc.
Eastern hognose snakes have heavy, stout bodies measuring about 27 inches long. They come in a variety of colors, like yellow, brown, light gray, and pink. Some are completely black or gray.
Western hognose snakes’ stouts are curvier than the stouts of the eastern hognoses. Most grow between 16 and 25 inches long.
Until recently, people believed hognose snakes to be nonvenomous. Recent evidence, however, shows that the species has rear fangs that contain a mild venom.
Differences Between Ball Pythons And Hognose Snakes
The main differences between ball pythons and hognose snakes are as follows.
Family And Genus
Ball pythons belong to the Pythonidae genus and the Boidae family. Hognoses belong to the Heterodon genus and the Colubridae family.
Habitat And Range
Hognose snakes prefer dry environments with plenty of loose dirt for digging. They are found in the United States, from Florida to New England, and parts of South Canada.
Ball pythons are native to Africa. They prefer dry grasslands, savannas, and forest edges.
Ball pythons are stocky snakes with small heads. They have smooth scales and come in colors like black, brown, light brown, golden sides, albino, etc. They have light-colored bellies with scattered markings. The average length of a ball python is between 2 and 5 feet (or 24 and 60 inches).
Hognose snakes have a distinct, upturned hog-like snout. They are short, stout snakes measuring between 21 and 32 inches. They have alternate light-dark patches with vivid yellow, brown, red, or orange colors.
Habits And Behavior
Hognose snakes are diurnal, meaning they are more active during the day than at night. Ball pythons are nocturnal, solitary creatures that are most active at night.
Hognose snakes are not ambush predators like ball pythons. They actively seek out their prey instead of hiding in wait for one. When threatened, they play dead or release a foul musk. Hognose snakes are mildly venomous. Their bites can cause painful blisters in humans and pets.
Ball pythons are nonvenomous and generally docile. They only strike when they feel threatened. They tend to curl up into balls when they want to defend themselves.
In the wild, ball pythons mostly eat small mammals and birds. Their size, habitat, and gender also influence their diet. In captivity, ball pythons eat thawed frozen rats and mice.
Hognose snakes mainly eat toads. They use their snouts to dig out toads, salamanders, frogs, insects, and their eggs from the soil. In captivity, hognose snakes usually eat thawed, frozen rodents but are pickier in their eating habits than ball pythons.
Similarities Between Ball Pythons And Hognose Snakes
Here are the main similarities between ball pythons and hognose snakes.
Both snake species are mostly terrestrial. Hognose snakes sometimes enter the water when navigating between areas. Ball pythons are terrestrial too, although they may climb trees in search of food.
Both snake species reproduce by laying eggs. Ball python clutches contain 5 to 10 eggs, which hatch about 55 to 60 days after being laid. Hognose snakes lay 4 to 23 eggs, which also hatch about 60 days after being laid.
Hognose snakes show a variety of behaviors, but are generally docile and friendly. They may even be good pets for young kids and beginners to snake husbandry.
Ball pythons are the most common and most popular pet snake in the United States. They are the second most common reptile pet after bearded dragons. Like hognose snakes, they are docile, mild-tempered, and generally open to being handled.
Advantages Of Ball Pythons As Pets
Ball pythons, especially those bred in captivity, make excellent pets due to the following reasons:
- Their care and husbandry are straightforward. They are generally low-maintenance.
- Ball pythons are fairly open to being handled. They won’t strike, attack, or bite unnecessarily. Their temperament is generally friendly and docile. This makes them a great beginning snake for kids as well.
- There are many colored morphs available in the species. You can choose from exotic and unique colors like cinnamon, champagne, pastel, caramel, albino, etc.
- While hognose snake owners have to offer a wide variety of foods to satisfy their picky eaters, ball pythons are generally happy eating a standard diet of thawed frozen rodents.
Advantages Of Hognose Snakes As Pets
Known for their beautiful eyes, hognose snakes have become extremely popular as pets for the following reasons:
- Since they are smaller than ball pythons, they do not require as large enclosures.
- Their small size also makes them easy to handle.
- In addition to being small, they are also docile. Their non-aggressive nature makes them a great beginner-friendly and kid-friendly snake.
- Hognoses display unique behaviors that ball pythons don’t. Their ability to play dead when threatened is unique to this species. This makes them highly entertaining as well.
Hognose Snake Vs Ball Python: Final Thoughts
Both the ball python and the hognose snake have unique characteristics that make them appealing as pets. The ball python’s docile nature, variety of color morphs, and straightforward care make it an excellent choice for beginners and experienced reptile enthusiasts alike.
On the other hand, the hognose snake’s smaller size, docility, and entertaining behaviors, such as playing dead when threatened, also make it a popular choice for pet owners.
Ultimately, the decision between these two species as a pet will depend on individual preferences and the level of care and interaction you are looking for in a pet snake.