Warning over ‘zombie snakes’ that play dead and ‘strike repeatedly’

Chris Riotta

Officials have warned residents in North Carolina about a “zombie snake” capable of pretending to be dead and repeatedly striking its enemies when under attack.

The North Carolina State Parks and Recreation posted images on Facebook of the snake turned on its back in a patch of grass, with its mouth slightly open and its body twisted on the ground.

While the snake may appear to be dead or asleep, the agency explains its instead employing a rather common tactic used by the eastern hog-nose snake.

"Instead of watching clouds to see if we can keep weekend weather on track, let's play a game! Who is this ‘famous’ NC snake?” The Facebook post read, featuring four various photos of the type of snake.

“A cobra? A zombie snake? It’s a harmless one,” the post continued.

The eastern hog-nose snake is found across the US, in states including Florida, Texas and Minnesota.

It’s also seemingly common in North Carolina, according to the Amphibian and Reptiles of North Carolina, which spoke to the news outlet about some of the snake’s unique survival tactics.

“When threatened, hog-nose snakes hiss loudly and spread their necks like cobras do, resulting in the nicknames 'puff adder' or 'spreading adder,'" the local museum said in a statement.

The statement went on to explain that eastern hog-nose snakes “rarely bite during these displays, but they may strike repeatedly."

The “zombie snake” is non-venomous and is usually harmless towards humans. The snake typically employs its “playing dead” technique when all other options fail.

“If the antagonist continues, the hog-nose snake will feign death by opening its mouth, rolling over on its back, and writhing around. If turned over onto its belly, it will immediately roll again onto its back,” the statement continues.