For most hognose snakes the bulk of their diet is made up by rodents, eggs, insects and lizards.
There has been some debate about whether Hognoses are venomous. Their saliva meets the definition of a venom since it is toxic to small prey such as frogs and toads; however, it is not likely to cause serious injury to humans, particularly as Hognoses are rear-fanged and although they will generally feign a strike, they will bite if threatened.
When threatened, Hognose Snakes will hiss, flatten their necks and raise their heads off the ground like Cobras. They sometimes feign strikes, but actual Hognose Snake bites are very rare. Hognose Snakes' most distinguishing characteristic is their upturned snout, which aids in digging in sandy soils by using a sweeping, side to side motion.
If this threat display fails to deter a would-be predator, Hognose species often roll onto their backs and play dead, going so far as to emit a foul musk and fecal matter from their cloaca and let their tongues hang out of their mouth, sometimes accompanied by small droplets of blood. If they are rolled upright while in this state, they will often roll back as if insisting they really are dead. It has been observed that the snake, while appearing to be dead, will still watch the threat that caused the death pose. The snake will 'resurrect' sooner if the threat is looking away from it than if the threat is looking at the snake. They are rather timid snakes and commonly hide from predators by burrowing down into leaves, sand etc.