Of all the animals in the Museum’s living collection, Digger has the most fitting name. This Western Hognose Snake really is an excellent digger. Some mornings he causes a momentary panic when I don’t see him in his enclosure. Luckily he has never escaped. He simply hides himself underneath the wood chips.
Hognose snakes are named for their upturned nose that they use like a shovel. Burrowing through leaf litter or sandy soil, they look for toads, which are their favorite meal. They also have a keel, or raised ridge, on each scale that may help them move through soil. (Keeled scales may also enhance camouflage by making each scale less shiny. No one quite seems to know for sure what the keel’s purpose is.) These snakes can also use their nose to excavate a burrow for winter hibernation. Digger doesn’t have to worry about cold temperatures or searching for toads at the Museum, but he still likes to dig!