Plains Hog-Nosed Snake

Family: 
Colubridae (nonvenomous snakes) in the order Squamata (lizards and snakes)
Description: 

The plains hog-nosed snake differs from the eastern hog-nosed snake by having a sharply upturned snout and black pigment on the underside of the tail. This species has always been quite rare in the state and has not been seen for many years. The shovel-like snout is used to dig out prey items which are detected by smell. Like other hog-nosed snakes, this species is known to play dead in self defense.

Size: 
Length: 16 to 25 inches.
Habitat and conservation: 
This species is restricted to sandy, loose prairie soils. Two subspecies of plains hog-nosed snakes have been recorded from Missouri in the past: The one described above, which is considered extirpated from Missouri, and the dusty hog-nosed snake, Heterodon nasicus gloydi, possibly a separate species, H. gloydi, which is critically imperiled in Missouri. The nearest secure populations of these snakes are to the west of us.
Foods: 
Toads, snakes, and lizard eggs are the primary foods, but small rodents are also eaten.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Probably extirpated from Missouri, but may still occur in the loess hill prairies in our extreme northwestern counties.
Status: 
The plains hog-nosed snake is apparently extirpated from Missouri; although it was once present in our state, it has not been seen in decades and we have probably lost it. The dusty hog-nosed snake, sometimes considered a separate species, sometimes a subspecies of the plains hog-nosed snake, is more likely to be found in Missouri, but it is critically imperiled. Both are Species of Conservation Concern.
Human connections: 
Human alteration of the landscape is the underlying cause of many species’ decline. Agriculture, urban sprawl, and road building break up historically large tracts of grasslands, degrading and separating the remaining fragments, shrinking and disconnecting animal and plant populations.
Ecosystem connections: 
As predators, snakes contribute to the balance of nature by limiting the populations of the animals they feed upon. Meanwhile, they are preyed upon themselves by other predators: owls, hawks, crows, foxes, coyotes, and raccoons. The eggs and young are particularly vulnerable.