Hognose snakes are quite popular reptiles in North America for their appearance, docile temperament, and non-venomous nature. But does this translate to Australia?
Today, we will discuss hognose snakes and how they stand with Australian law. Can you find them on the continent, can you own one as a pet, and do you need a permit? So many questions, so many incoming answers. So, let’s answer!
Legal Status Of Hognose Snakes In Australia
Hognose snakes (genus Heterodon) are not native to Australia and are considered an invasive species. As such, it is illegal to import, sell, or keep them as pets in Australia. It couldn’t be clearer than that, right?
As a general rule, Australia has strict laws regarding the importation of live animals, as the country has a unique ecosystem and many introduced species have caused significant harm to native wildlife in the past. The importation of live animals is, therefore, highly regulated, and permits are required for many types of animals, especially snakes, with a potential for becoming pests. As is the case with the hognose snake and many others.
Therefore, if you are in Australia and come across a hognose snake, it is important to notify your local wildlife or conservation authority so that they can take appropriate action to remove the animal and prevent it from becoming established in the environment. Needless to say, you can only bring a hognose snake onto Australian soil in very specific cases, which we will discuss shortly.
Why Hognose Snakes Are Illegal In Australia
Hognose snakes are illegal in Australia because they are considered an invasive species. This shouldn’t be a surprise, given that they are sometimes considered invasive reptiles in the US as well. As non-native species, they have the potential to disrupt the natural balance of the local ecosystem, competing with and preying on endemic wildlife. In addition, hognose snakes are known to be escape artists, and if released into the wild, they could establish populations that could potentially spread to other areas, causing further harm. So, you can’t have them as pets either, let alone release them into the wild willingly.
Australia has some of the world’s strictest biosecurity laws in place to protect its unique and fragile ecosystems from non-endemic species that disrupt the local habitats. The importation and keeping of non-native animals, including hognose snakes, is therefore heavily regulated and requires permits and strict compliance with the current regulations.
Furthermore, hognose snakes are also considered mild threats to human health and safety. Although they are not venomous, they can bite if provoked or threatened, which could result in injury and infection. This is somewhat ironic, given that Australia isn’t the one to lack the presence of reptiles dangerous to human safety. Hognose wouldn’t be any different if it weren’t for their predilection for living near human settlements for easy access to rodents and other small animals.
This risk further reinforces the need for strict control and regulation of the importation and keeping of hognose snakes in Australia.
In summary, hognose snakes are illegal in Australia due to their potential to disrupt the natural ecosystem, their escape-prone nature, and the potential risk they pose to human health and safety. Strict regulations and laws are in place to protect the local environment and people from the negative impacts of any foreign species.
The Risks Of Keeping An Illegal Hognose Snake
Keeping an illegal hognose snake can pose several risks, both to the owner and to the surrounding environment. These include
- Legal consequences – Keeping an illegal hognose snake is a criminal offense, which can result in fines, imprisonment, and even deportation. I’m not exactly sure it’s worth the risk.
- Risk to native wildlife – We’ve already touched on this aspect previously. Hognose snakes are not native to Australia, and if they escape or are released into the wild, they could compete with native wildlife for resources, leading to the decline or extinction of local species. Especially since said species are not accustomed to the newcomer, so they don’t know how to deal with it.
- Risk to human health – While hognose snakes are not venomous, they can still bite and potentially cause injury or infection. Handling illegal and unregulated snakes can also lead to the spread of diseases to humans.
As you can see, you have every reason to avoid bringing hognose snakes onto the Australian continent and no incentives.
Can You Legally Keep A Hognose Snake In Australia?
No, you cannot unless in very specific cases, such as for research or educational purposes. You need to discuss the matter with the local authorities to see whether you qualify for that, in which case you need a special permit or authorization for you to acquire the reptile legally.
Alternatives To Hognose Snakes For Australian Snake Enthusiasts
Here are some examples of endemic snakes that can easily replace your beloved hognose crawler:
- Carpet python – Carpet pythons are a large and robust species that come in a variety of colorations and patterns. They have a calm temperament and are relatively easy to care for, making them a popular choice for both novice and experienced snake keepers.
- Diamond python – Diamond pythons are a large and beautiful species that are also widespread throughout the Australian ecosystems. They are known for their distinctive diamond-shaped markings and have a calm temperament, making them a great addition to any reptile collection. They require a bit more specialized care than some other species of snake, but they are relatively easy to handle with a bit of know-how and commitment.
- Green tree python – Green tree pythons are a stunningly beautiful arboreal species that are generally native to New Guinea and Indonesia. They require specialized care, including specific temperature and humidity levels, but they are a favorite among experienced snake keepers due to their unique coloration and behavior. They are often kept in planted terrariums to replicate their natural habitat, and they make for an interesting display animal.
Don’t let my 3-snake list stop you from discovering even more colorful and exotic local species to increase your snake collection. Just make sure that you understand the animals’ requirements and that you’re clear with the law before acquiring your pet.
Hognose snakes are generally harmless and beneficial in their native ecosystem, but they can become pests in foreign habitats, where they can disrupt the local balance. We have countless examples of relatively harmless animals becoming the reasons for massive environmental damage when introduced to new ecosystems.
So, tread carefully because Australian law is as strict as they come.