Adorable “Zombie Snake” Instinctively Plays Dead After Hatching

Written by Opal
Updated: December 25, 2022
© Gerald A. DeBoer/
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Zombies have gained quite a bit of popularity over the years. Whether it’s zombie movies, pub crawls, or Halloween costumes, the theme seems to be everywhere. Did you know there’s such thing as a “zombie snake”?

Zombie snakes, also known as hognose snakes, have made the news over and over again for their unique defensive qualities. While pet owners spend weeks teaching their puppy to play dead, this animal does it naturally! 

An Eastern hognose snake playing dead on a forest floor
Eastern hognose snakes “play dead” as a defense when they feel threatened, so people often call them “zombie snakes.”

©Jay Ondreicka/

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You’ll find Eastern hognose snakes in southern Canada and the eastern part of the United States. These snakes choose locations with sandy soils that are suitable for burrowing. They reside in forests, meadows, farms, river deltas, grasslands, and coastal regions. 

According to where they dwell, these reptiles come in a broad range of colors and patterns. They frequently come in shades of black, yellow, gray, green, red, brown, orange, or even a mixture of these hues. Many have dark patches or spots along the length of their bodies to create camouflage, while some have one solid color all over. 

ViralHog, a popular Youtube channel, uploaded a strangely adorable video of a hognose snake. In the video, a freshly hatched yellow snakelet is lying in someone’s hand. The person starts to poke the snake and it instantly plays dead by turning over and freezing. 

When frightened or under attack, these serpents roll over and act dead. The Eastern Hognose Snake, which resembles a zombie when doing this, is absolutely non-lethal to people. With over 500,000 likes at the time of writing this, it’s safe to say people are in awe of this little creature. 

One of the comments under the video says, “OK, I have never said this about a snake before, but… that was actually cute!” While the snake is doing this because it’s scared, we can say it does look adorable in the process. 

Another person writes, “Nature never ceases to amaze me. He hasn’t even been on this earth but a quick short time and already knows to play dead.” It’s true! Hognose snakes are born knowing how to play dead as a defense mechanism. Some think that it’s a warning display because they eat poisonous toads. 

He’ll grow up to be between 18 and 48 inches long. Hognose snakes are relatively small in comparison to other types of snakes. We hope you check out the video below, along with some of our other favorite footage of slithery serpents. 

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About the Author

When she's not busy playing with her several guinea pigs or her cat Finlay Kirstin is writing articles to help other pet owners. She's also a REALTOR® in the Twin Cities and is passionate about social justice. There's nothing that beats a rainy day with a warm cup of tea and Frank Sinatra on vinyl for this millennial.

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