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This Snake Plays Dead When Threatened

The North American hognose snake, aka “puff adder, aka “zombie snake”, has a taste for the dramatic. When threatened, this natural-born artist likes to play dead in the most overacted way imaginable.

The hognose snake got its first nickname, “puff adder”, for its main defense mechanism. To scare away threats, it sucks in air and spreads the skin around its head and neck like a cobra, hissing loudly and pretending to prepare for a vicious snake. But if that doesn’t work, it has another intriguing trick up its sleeve. And that’s where the second nickname, “zombie snake”, comes in. According to theĀ Amphibians and Reptiles of North Carolina, if a predator isn’t impressed by the snake’s threatening display, it “will then feign death by opening its mouth, rolling over on its back, and writhing around. If turned over onto its belly, it will immediately roll again onto its back”.

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