Environmental Enrichment: Decorating Your Hognose Snake Enclosure

Terrarium decorations are more than just silly accessories to waste your money and/or make your pet’s space look prettier. While they can serve an aesthetic function, they also enhance a reptile’s quality of life by mimicking their natural environment and providing mental stimulation. The best zoos do this all the time — it’s called environmental enrichment

Hognose snakes can actually be quite active when given plenty of things to explore, so don’t be afraid to go all out!

Water dish

A water dish is about as functional as décor can get. We’ll talk about this more in the Food section, but your hognose’s water dish should be large enough to accommodate at least most of the snake’s body, and heavy enough that it can’t be tipped over.

How to Decorate a Hognose Snake Enclosure
H. nasicus. Photo contributed by Kate Brown.


A hide is a cave-like structure where your snake can hide and snooze in security. While your hognose will likely be spending most of their time underground, it doesn’t hurt to also provide a couple of hides: one on the cool end and one on the warm side. If possible, providing a humid hide lined with moist sphagnum moss can make shedding easier.

Climbing branches

Hognose snakes may be fossorial, but that doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy a good climb every now and then. It’s good exercise, encouraging healthy muscle tone. It also makes the most of your enclosure’s vertical space. Don’t forget to install lid locks, though, or else you may find that you’ve given your hognose the perfect ladder.

How to Decorate a Hognose Snake Enclosure
H. nasicus. Photo contributed by Didi Windpassinger.

Hollow logs

Hollow logs are like branches and hides in one package. They’re also terribly attractive, especially cork rounds.

Rocks and stacked stones

Rocks add to the naturalistic appeal of an enclosure, and absorb heat when placed close to your heat source, creating additional basking spots. If you choose to use rocks in your enclosure, be sure to bury them into the substrate so your snake can’t burrow underneath them and get accidentally crushed.


Live plants aren’t always the best idea with snakes, as they often end up crushing them. However, larger plants are more likely to survive your snake’s enthusiasm. Make sure to select plants with nontoxic sap and are tolerant of moderate to low moisture (depending on what species of hognose you have). Live plants must be cleaned before being added to the terrarium, and you will also need a high-PAR 6500K plant light to “feed” them. My preferred plant light is the Jungle Dawn LED Bar.

Alternatively, you can simply use artificial plants. They should be durable and resilient to heat and UV. Custom Reptile Habitats sells a good variety of realistic, highly durable artificial plants for terrariums. 

How to Decorate a Hognose Snake Enclosure
Snow morph H. nasicus. Photo contributed by Krista Childers.


Grass is another way to make your enclosure look more like the grasslands that wild hognoses call home. Wild hognoses are actually frequently found hiding in knots of dead grass. In your enclosure, live grasses can increase humidity and provide hiding space; dried grasses just plain look cool.


Leaves provide additional cover for your hognose to hide and burrow in. They also look wonderfully natural. Leaves can be collected from an untainted woodland near your home or purchased online by the gallon.

Can you collect enclosure decorations from outside?

As long as the decorations come from an area that isn’t exposed to pesticides or herbicides, and collection is legal, go for it! Collected décor is always free.

Because there’s no way of guaranteeing what bugs and germs collected materials might bring with them, it’s best to sterilize them before putting them in the enclosure. Give them a good scrub with water first, then bake them in your oven at 200°F (100°C) for 2-3 hours, depending on size. This temperature is too low for anything to catch fire.

Inspiration for decorating your hognose enclosure

The best inspiration for decorating your hognose enclosure comes from looking at pictures of their natural habitat. Do a Google Image search. Check out herping pictures of hognoses found in the wild on iNaturalist and Flickr. Watch herping videos, too!

Keep reading about hognose snake care:

  1. Introduction to Hognose Snakes
  2. Hognose Shopping List
  3. Species of the Heterodon Genus
  4. Terrarium Size Guidelines
  5. Temperature & Humidity Requirements
  6. Substrate Options for Hognose Snakes
  7. Environmental Enrichment: Decorating the Terrarium 
  8. Feeding Your Hognose Snake
  9. Handling Tips & Body Language Info
  10. Common Diseases & Hognose Health Questions
  11. Additional Resources

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