'Zombie snake' plays dead when threatened, but rarely bites humans

Gary Dinges gdinges@gatehousemedia.com
The eastern hognose snake is often called a "zombie snake" because it plays dead when threatened. [NORTH CAROLINA DIVISION OF PARKS AND RECREATION]

Next time you're outdoors, keep an eye out for a certain type of snake that likes to play dead.

The eastern hognose snake is often called a "zombie snake" because it freezes when threatened, opening its mouth and rolling onto its back. Many people — and other critters — often mistakenly assume the snake they've just encountered has died, CBS News says.

The snakes can bite humans, but rarely do so, according to the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation.

The "zombie snake" nickname, CBS News says, has led some people to believe the snake actually dies and then comes back to life, but state officials say that's just not the case.

According to the Amphibians and Reptiles of North Carolina websitea, eastern hognose are described as "stocky snakes whose name is derived from their upturned snout. They are highly variable in color, but are usually brown or gray with dark brown blotches. Some individuals have extensive reddish or orange suffused into the general pattern; some, however, are patternless, appearing solid gray or black."

They primarily eat toads. Each summer, female eastern hognose snakes typically lay between five and 50 eggs, the site says