Bearded Dragon vs Hognose Snake: Deciding Your Ideal Reptile!

If you’re looking to become a reptile owner, two very common and popular pets are the bearded dragon and the hognose snake. Given that they have different temperaments and behaviors, you might want to compare them closely. So, what are the differences between a hognose snake and a beardie?

Bearded dragons and hognose snakes are two reptiles popularly kept as pets, mainly because both are easy to care for and considered harmless to humans. They have some differences in behavior, habitat, and size. Most notably, beardies grow to be much larger than a typical hognose snake.

This article aims to compare and contrast the bearded dragon and hognose snake as reptile pets. I’ll cover their temperament, habits, how much care they require, and other comparisons. Let’s get started! 

Key Differences Between Bearded Dragons and Hognose Snakes

If you’re considering getting one of these two reptiles as a pet, a thorough comparison of their traits is necessary. I suggest thinking about each of these aspects carefully before choosing your pet.

Let’s take an in-depth look below at the main differences between these reptiles:

Behavior and Temperament in Captivity 

Bearded dragons and hognose snakes are active during the day, but the hognose snake tends towards more solitary behavior than the bearded dragon. In fact, you might notice that the beardie is actually a very curious and communicative reptile. 

Some researchers have noted that beardies communicate in waves and nods. They might be nodding their heads quickly as a sign of dominance, slow nods can indicate submission.

Another fun characteristic of bearded dragons is their ability to change colors. However, don’t expect the same changes that a chameleon would show. Instead, a bearded dragon tends to change colors in different body parts separately. Nonetheless, it’s a cool thing to observe. 

The hognose snake is less communicative and prefers being left alone for the majority of its day. Although it is not aggressive and non-poisonous, this snake is still capable of biting (and it would hurt). 

If you have a hognose snake, you might notice that they enjoy burrowing in the beddings of its enclosures using its characteristic scoop nose. 

When in danger, hognose snakes tend to play dead, lie on their backs (uncharacteristic of live snakes), and roll out their tongues to feign death in the presence of predators. 

As a pet owner, you might notice that these snakes are most active during the hotter hours of the day. During this time, they enjoy burrowing in the soil or the bedding of their enclosure. 

Natural and Captive Habitat

As you might expect, bearded dragons live in arid areas, and warmth is a common denominator in their natural habitats. They’re usually found in deserts, woodlands in the subtropics, savannas, and even scrublands. 

When in captivity, bearded dragon owners need to ensure that the temperature is warm enough to keep the reptile comfortable. Hognose snakes also like warmth, and owners are usually advised to keep a basking light on in the enclosure to give the snake some comfort.

I would also suggest feeding a hognose snake in another part of the enclosure if possible. This will help your reptile recognize the feeding area and avoid eating the bedding when they try burrowing into it. 

Sleeping Patterns

Both hognose snakes and bearded dragons are diurnal. This means that they stay awake and are active during the day. At night, they like to be tucked up and asleep. Also, both the beardie and the hognose go through brumation (the cold-blooded version of hibernation).

Hognose snakes typically brumate during winter and early spring, whereas bearded dragons prefer fall and winter for a longer brumation period. This fact is important to consider when choosing a pet because you won’t be able to interact with your reptile pet for months during brumation.

Diet and Care 

For those who are squeamish about giving their reptiles live feed, the bearded dragon is a great pet because they are actually omnivores. They can survive on a predominantly plant diet because, in the wild, they tend to eat leaves, flowers, and fruits. They also love to crunch on small insects, so you’d never have a problem with pesky mosquitoes and fruit flies! 

With the proper care, beardies will stay with you for roughly 8 to 12 years. That’s long enough for you to develop a connection with them. However, you should know that they tend to grow bigger than a hognose snake ever will. 

If you care for your bearded dragon well, you can expect them to grow a couple of inches every month. 

As for hognose snakes, their life expectancy depends on the breed you get. The Eastern Hognose Snake typically lives between 5 and 9 years. However, the more popular breed (the Western Hognose Snake), has a much higher life expectancy of up to 20 years. 

Regardless of the breed of hognose snake you decide to get, you’ll be delighted to know that they are relatively easy to care for. Also, as I’ve mentioned earlier, they don’t grow very large. That makes them more suited for keeping in a bedroom—perfect for young children or teenagers. 

Still, there is the issue of feeding them. Hognose snakes are carnivores and typically feed on toads in the wild. In captivity, they tend to be finicky with their food, and consistency is key to keeping them well-fed. 

You’ll need to start by feeding your hognose crickets at first, but over time the only way to keep them healthy is to feed them live prey. This should include live mice—starting from newborns to fully-grown mice when your snake is big enough. 

If you’re squeamish about feeding a hognose snake live prey, I highly suggest that you do not keep one as a pet. Without proper feeding and a warm environment to digest its food, a hognose snake will not survive captivity. 

Dangers and Concerns

Handling any animals (even those kept as pets) comes with its own risks and potential dangers. For one thing, many official reports claim that bearded dragons are carriers of salmonella germs—which could cause life-threatening diarrhea and other gastrointestinal symptoms. 

Once you’re finished handling your bearded dragon, you should always wash your hands and avoid touching your mouth, face, or eyes while handling it.

On the other hand, hognose snakes don’t tend to carry any dangerous germs. They are technically non-venomous because the small amount of venom they produce is not enough to cause a severe reaction in humans. However, keep in mind that a snakebite from a hognose will still hurt, so always handle snakes carefully.

Beardie or Snake: Which Pet Should You Get?

At the end of the day, the choice between a bearded dragon and a hognose snake comes down to personal preference. While both reptiles are easy to care for, there is the matter of feeding the carnivorous snake live mice every week or so. For many pet owners, that’s a line they aren’t willing to cross.

Many people prefer bearded dragons because of their mannerisms. Waving and nodding might sound like very small movements when compared to dogs or other mammalian pets, but they are a lot for a reptile. 

On the other hand, if you’re interested in owning a snake but still nervous about handling them, hognose snakes are a great start. Caring for them is easy, and they aren’t typically aggressive, so there is a lower risk of being attacked by the snake. 

If you are ever bitten by a hognose snake, it will hurt much less than a venomous snake. However, it’s still a good idea to visit the emergency room so that a professional can check you out. 

Can You Keep a Bearded Dragon and a Hognose Snake Together?

You shouldn’t keep a bearded dragon and a hognose snake in the same tank together. Hognose snakes, like most other snake breeds, do not do well unless they are kept in a solitary enclosure. Even though hognose snakes aren’t typically aggressive, they prefer solitude.

Bearded dragons are very social animals and may survive being kept in the same tank with another reptile. However, most experts do not recommend housing snakes with other reptiles—-not even other snakes. 

You can certainly own both reptiles as pets, but be sure to keep them in separate tanks. Of course, that requires enough space to house both tanks. Also, you will have to put in extra effort towards providing the best habitat for both. 

If you’re a first-time reptile owner, I suggest choosing one or the other because handling two reptiles simultaneously can be overwhelming if you’re a beginner. Once you’re more comfortable caring for your pet, you can consider getting another.


Paying careful consideration to the differences between beardies and hognose snakes is important because it will affect your pet-owning experience. Choose one of them as a pet if you are interested in reptiles, and you won’t regret it. 

With proper care, you would be able to keep your pet for a decade or more. Both are practically harmless but relatively active nonetheless. Care for them well, and you will have at least a decade to enjoy their company. 

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