By Nick Cairns, Sam Jaques and Graham Rothwell

Nick has a theory that you catch the best snakes once you give up looking for them. I heard this but thought it was probably just some kind of selection bias. Maybe he just remembers those times more vividly.

So the other day after it started raining we gave up on collecting anything and started to walk back when I saw this:

Hognose Snake

That's a western hognose snake, although I didn't know it at the time. On seeing it my first thought was “A snake! Grab it!”

But shortly after I thought “I'm not sure what kind of snake that is. Is grabbing unidentified snakes really the best idea?”

Finally, and probably most importantly, I realized, “We're still in the park, and we don't have permits to grab snakes in the park.”

I yelled out to Nick and Graham, who were understandably very excited when they saw the hognose. This is actually the first confirmed sighting of this species in the East Block of Grasslands National Park (though they have been seen, rarely, in the West Block).

It's a pretty cool snake. They're named after their upturned rostral scale (the one on the nose), which is used for digging. Supposedly it looks like a hog's nose, but I think they look more like one of Scrooge McDuck's nephews. 

Hognose Snake

They have venom, but it can't hurt humans; they can only kill toads and other small reptiles with it. Sometimes they even eat garter snakes.

After today I realized that if Nick's “you catch more snakes when you give up” theory is wrong, then I don't want to be right.