The ingenious tactic used by 'zombie snake' to evade predators

A cunning reptile has learned to defend itself from its predators by pretending to be dead.

The serpent has been labelled a “zombie snake” due to its tactic of playing dead by lying on its back and opening its mouth before appearing to come back to life.

With an Oscar-worthy performance, the eastern hognose often writhes around as if in sheer pain, whilst also emitting a disgusting smell.

A cunning “zombie snake” reptile has learned to defend itself from its prey by lying on its back with its mouth open, pretending to be dead. Source: North Carolina State Parks and Recreation / Facebook

The snake even opens its mouth or hangs its fork tongue out to ensure the dramatic scene is fully believable.

The reptile’s uncanny behaviour inspired North Carolina officials to share the serpent’s neat trick on social media.

The state’s Department of Parks and Recreation shared a photo of the lifeless-looking serpent lying on its back to its Facebook page last week, among other more animated pictures.

The dramatic “zombie snake” is playing dead to ward off prey. Source: Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Despite earning the moniker of “zombie snake” the eastern hognose is actually “mostly harmless” and rarely bites humans, officials at the North Carolina State Parks and Recreation told CBS News.

“[The snake] puts on quite a dramatic display to deter predators, including puffing up its head to look more like a cobra or pretending to be dead briefly. Nevertheless, they are NOT aggressive and rarely bite people,” the department said.

Many were impressed by the creature’s ingenious disguise.

“And the Oscar for best performance goes to...” one wrote on the the thread.

Another agreed, commenting: “The great thespian snake. Drama noodle for sure.”

The eastern hognose snake has been known to spring back to life after playing dead. Source: North Carolina State Parks and Recreation / Facebook

“Non-poisonous. When threatened, it hisses and, if that doesn't work, it plays dead,” a third wrote.

The eastern hognose snake species is variable in colour and mainly found in North America and Canada.

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