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Old 10-03-17, 12:47 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Help identifying a northern indiana snake

Hi, we were out walking close to lake Michigan when we came across this snake. I forgot to see if it had sits or round pupils. I know almost nothing about snakes, but it did something odd to me when I got close. It flattened the part out immediately behind its head that reminded me of what I've seen of cobras in pictures (I know it isn't a cobra). Anyway just looked a bit different than the regular old garter snakes that I see around occationally. It went off into the woods but I'm just curious what it might be. Thanks.
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Old 10-03-17, 03:40 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Help identifying a northern indiana snake

Sounds like it was probably an eastern hognose snake. Mildly venomous, but harmless to most humans.
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Old 10-03-17, 04:54 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Help identifying a northern indiana snake

Agreed, sounds like an eastern hognose. Google them and let us know what you think.
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Old 10-03-17, 07:35 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Help identifying a northern indiana snake

Hognose are the most well known but many nonvenomous or nerodia genus water snakes can somewhat flatten their neck. Northern water snakes are quite common around the midwest and one of the species that goes all the way up to Canada with a variety of bland brown/grey colors varying in visibility of bars with fairly impressive bodies and will flatten out or threaten. Diamondback water snakes are less common, endangered in Iowa and found more southern around the great lakes, but are similar. Poisonous snakes listed for Indiana are generally southern half or less and a cottonmouth/water moccasin is only listed for 2 counties.

Also there is an exception to every venomous versus nonvenomous rule generally listed so they are mostly regional. Elapids are venomous snakes with round pupils but only coral snakes exist in the US and brown water snakes have triangular heads but their range generally ends at Missouri in the center of the country and a little higher up the east coast. If you don't know enough to ID a pit viper versus other species before you are close enough, long enough to see its' pupils you are already in trouble or not depending what it turns out to be.
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Old 10-04-17, 09:54 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Help identifying a northern indiana snake

The description of flattening the part out immediately behind its head - looking like a cobra - makes me think hognose. Water snakes can flatten their heads out, but I think hognoses fit the bill more. Plus, lots of people are seeing hognoses this time of year. They're pretty active right now.
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Old 10-04-17, 04:42 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Help identifying a northern indiana snake

Almost all colubrids can flatten their heads and part of the neck to appear larger...gophers and pines, water and garter snakes, kings, as well as ratsnakes, but none as much as hognose. We should keep in mind that when trying to ID a snake without pictures there is a question of the witness and the perspective they have parially based on what they saw. It's my opinion that there is zero way to properly identify this snake without a visual.
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