Here is one of the eastern hognose snake's favorite tricks: playing dead. Though this snake is absolutely fine, it sure looks like it has expired, doesn't it?
Still dead, even when disturbed or being picked up.
Here's a picture of another hognose trick. Before playing dead, the eastern hognose will spread its neck into a hood just like a cobra. It hisses very loudly and acts very, very aggressive. But it is all just a show; the reality is the snake is completely harmless. If playing cobra doesn't scare its assailant away, that's when it reverts to playing dead as it did here.
Even when picked up, the snake appears completely limp and lifeless.
After taking the snake home and showing it to family and friends (because I thought it was one of the coolest animals ever and knew they'd appreciate it too), I released it that night. Amazingly, the once dead snake is now alive and well!
I think the better pictures of this snake are on my daughter's camera. I caught this one in 2009, the second hognose of my life (and every bit as thrilling as the first). It's much bigger than the snake I caught last year, and though the picture really doesn't show it, its pattern was suffused with orange. A beautiful animal.
Snakes don't have any eyelids (just a clear scale over their eyes), so they can't shut their eyes to play dead. And though you can't really tell by the way I'm holding it, this snake is playing dead. It's body is completely flaccid, its tongue is lolling, and if you look closely at the corner of its mouth, you can see it has even managed to squeeze out a couple drops of blood for dramatic effect.