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Warning over four feet long ‘zombie snake’ in North Carolina

Warning over four feet long ‘zombie snake’ in North Carolina that ‘plays dead’ before striking repeatedly

  • The eastern hognose snake can feign death by emulating all the obvious signs 
  • This is a tactic to out-smart nature’s predators and survive hostile environments 
  • Parks and Recreation staff warned locals not to approach or handle the reptiles

Snakes that have a stealth tactic to out-smart their predators by playing dead are causing concern to animals specialists in the United States.

Pictures of the animals performing this defensive action were shared by state parks and recreation staff in North Carolina this week, along with a warning.

They told local residents via their Facebook page told people not to approach or handle the so-called ‘zombie’ serpent.

The creatures –  the eastern hognose snake, also known as a puff adders – may strike repeatedly if startled.

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Snakes that have a stealth tactic to out-smart their predators by playing dead are causing concern to animals specialists in the United States. Pictured: The eastern hognose, also known as a puff adders, which may strike repeatedly if startled

Snakes that have a stealth tactic to out-smart their predators by playing dead are causing concern to animals specialists in the United States. Pictured: The eastern hognose, also known as a puff adders, which may strike repeatedly if startled

HOW DO SNAKES DEFEND THEMSELVES? 

– Their colouring helps them to camouflage, providing an optical illusion which makes them ‘invisible’

– They hiss and stand up during attack 

– Snakes also burrow under foliage to evade capture 

– Certain breeds can rattle their tails, which also warn off prey

– Many are endowed with venom 

The Eastern Hognose reptile, which is commonly found in North America, can mimic a deceased state at will.

This helps them to survive hostile environments and evade danger from aggressors, such as birds of prey, who feed on snakes. 

Images released by North Carolina State Parks and Recreation (NCSPR) show one of the creatures lying on its back with its mouth open, appearing to be lifeless.  

In reality, it is merely waiting for an opportune moment to escape. 

‘Who is this “famous” NC snake? A cobra? A zombie snake?’, NCSPR staff wrote. 

‘It’s a harmless one. Learn more in our Year of the Snake program.’

According to the Amphibians and Reptiles of North Carolina, the Eastern Hognoses are not dangerous because they lack poisonous vemon. 

However, if attacked, they will hiss loudly, broaden their necks and bite. 

Only if a predator continues to attack will it ‘feign death by opening its mouth, rolling over on its back, and writhing around.’  

Acting up: Pictures of the animal performing this defensive action were shared this week by parks and recreation staff in North Carolina, who warned locals not to approach them

Acting up: Pictures of the animal performing this defensive action were shared this week by parks and recreation staff in North Carolina, who warned locals not to approach them

According to the Amphibians and Reptiles of North Carolina, the eastern hognose snakes are stocky creatures whose name is derived from their upturned snout

According to the Amphibians and Reptiles of North Carolina, the eastern hognose snakes are stocky creatures whose name is derived from their upturned snout

This isn’t the only skill they possess, of course – they also use their upturned nose to dig for toads, which is a staple of their diet.

Specifically, they also use sharp teeth in the back of the mouth to ‘pop’ the animals for easier swallowing and digestion.

Typically, hognose snakes reproduce in the summer months, laying an average 50 eggs in June and July. 

Their offspring hatch about two months later and look like the adults in size and stature.  

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