Check out the Timber Rattlesnake video from this trip

Trip Details

Herp Trip: Saturday May 19, 2001

Herpers: Jim Scharosch & Matt Ricklefs

Location: Two separate locations in Jackson County.

Time: Started at first site at about 9:00 am and the second site at about 3:30 pm.

Temp/Conditions: 75 - 80 degrees. Low wind, mostly sunny.

At the first site we started early and found one Eastern Milk Snake (Lampropeltis triangulum) where the sun had just began hitting an open hillside. This was a very pretty one, although it was in shed. It had more white than some others we have found in the area.

As it warmed up, we looked on a more forested hillside where we have found Milk Snakes before (see pictures from 5/5/01) and did find two more. One was a young adult, about twenty inches long, and the other was a yearling, in shed.

We also found a Brown Snake (Storeria dekayi) by a garden and two Bullfrogs (Rana catesbeiana) in a drainage ditch by a farm.

We are still looking for Timbers at this site as they have been found before, but have not found any quite yet. Good area and private land, so we will continue to explore.

Being as our main objective was to capture some good footage of Timber Rattlesnakes we decided to go to an area we have seen them this year but did not get all the footage we wanted. After a brief trip of exploring through a couple of favorable areas we worked out way south in Jackson County. We arrived at our next site at about 3:30 pm.

Searching a rock ledge outcropping where we had captured some footage of two nice Black Rat Snakes (Elaphe obsoleta) earlier this season, (see pictures from 4/28/01) we found a good complete shed skin. Either this was from the larger of the Black Rats we had found or there is another very large Black Rat, as the shed skin was easily six feet long.

Under a very large heavy rock that has produced Timbers for us before, we scored a Timber (Crotalus horridus) about three feet long. It probably would have sat more still initially had we not dropped a hat on her in the process of lifting the rock. keep in mind it was a very heavy rock! Needless to say she was not happy about that. We did get some excellent footage though. She has the golden brown coloration, but being older had darkened – still pretty though.

After placing the rock back and letting her settle back in, we continued on the bluff side. We found a Milk Snake about sixteen inches in length, also in the middle of shed. Further down in a very nice spot where the shade and sun met, we found another Timber under a much easier to turn rock. This one was closer to two feet long and held the typical coiled pose very nicely so we could get some footage. This one did not move until we lifted it to get some different pictures. It then took the defensive posture. As this one was younger the golden brown really was beautiful, especially in the sun.

We did also get some pictures of "the black dots". A pair of small dots on the top of the head between the eyes. I have noticed them in different species of Copperhead. If you look at the Peterson Field Guide you can see these dots on some of the Copperheads as well as the "yellow phase" Timber. I just find it fascinating that separate genus and species of pit viper have these same markings. They probably do not mean anything, but I still think it's interesting. After getting enough footage we let this one settle back in under it's rock.

As we walked back to the car we stopped at some tin and junk and did find a Brown Snake and a Red-Bellied Snake (Storeria occipitomaculata). This is the second time in two different locations and habitat we have found the different Storeria co-existing.

All in all a very productive day, especially with the cooler weather we have been experiencing over this week so far.

I think that besides the importance and interest of documenting the various projects and finds people post on Iowa herps, this networking also helps provide motivation even on a less than favorable day. To be able to interact with different people with the same interests and understanding is very valuable and I am glad to be a part of this sharing of information.

Here is some video of the rattlesnakes.

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