The Eastern Hognose Snake is mostly harmless. Though it has large fangs and is mildly venomous, it mainly eats toads and is immune to the toxins secreted by their skin. It’s large fangs can puncture toads if they try swell up with air to defend themselves. Why it chooses to eat toads over other, more delicious foods beats me.
Despite the interesting diet, this particular snake is pretty crafty. When threatened it flattens out its neck and lifts up like a cobra, hissing and striking at the offender. It’s all an act. Most of the strikes are made with the mouth firmly closed.
If the macho act fails to scare away the threat, the snake plays dead. Convincingly, emmy-award-winningly dead. It first writhes about quite dramatically as if saying loudly “oh noes, you got me!”
To finish the act the snake rolls onto its back. Its head lolls to the side, the mouth opens and tongue hangs out. It may stop breathing. Sometimes it even vomits blood or gets dirt into its mouth for added effect. Again, all an act. Once the threat is gone, the snake revives and goes on its merry way.
This video shows both deceptions in action, first the snake fakes an attack, then fakes its own death.
One thing gives away the farce, did you pick it? Although the snake is limp when moved, if it is put onto its stomach it will immediately roll onto its back. The snake knows the illusion is complete when it’s belly up.
There are plenty of great animal actors out there, but I know of none are better than the Mimic Octopus. Hats off.