Trip Details

Herpers: Jim Scharosch

Location: Jackson County, IA

Time: 11:00 am to 2:00 pm

Temp/Conditions: Sunny for most of the time. Not too windy. Temperature of about 75.

Early this week we planned a large trip for today with some friends from work whom we had herped with last year. We were planning to try to get to some different areas and do some scouting for new spots. As the week progressed we had some people drop out of the trip, and Matt ended up getting his appendix taken out. When it was all said and done, I ended up going out solo. I like to herp alone once in a while, it is nice to enjoy the quiet. It is a lot more work though, as you have to turn more rocks. It is also a challenge to take decent pictures, having to do both the snake wrangling and the picture taking yourself, especially with venomous species.

I headed up to Jackson County in the morning and arrived around 11:00 am. It was sunny and warm and I headed down the bluff to the area we usually herp. The five-lined skinks were all over as I started to check a few rocks on the far end of the bluff. That is usually a good sign that things are moving. A few of the skinks appeared to be big gravid females and I saw a lot more adult skinks than usual. I struck out at the areas where we used to always find Timbers and went farther along the bluff to an area that only started to have them over the last few years.

Under a large rock high on the bluff I found a large Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus h. horridus). It was one of the golden brown ones that are the most common from this area. It was about three and a half feet long and very chunky.

It did not coil up and it did not rattle at all. The only thing it was interested in was exiting the area. From the girth and the temperament, I figure it was most likely a gravid female. I was very happy to see it and after wrangling it for a while for pictures I let it slip back under the rock I found it under. I could already consider this a successful day.

I turned a few more rocks and about fifteen feet away I found another timber. This one was smaller, about twenty-eight inches long, was a darker, chocolaty brown.

This one also had no desire to pose for pictures and did not rattle at all. I had to work hard to get it to sit still for a few seconds and by the time I would get my camera up it was headed off into the grass again. I managed to get a few pictures and let it head up the hillside.

I checked the rest of the bluff, but that was the end of finding stuff today. I got adventurous and tried to scout another bluff that I had seen on satellite maps of the area. The bad thing about the satellite maps is you cannot tell how steep a bluff is. I headed down one bluff and when I got to the bottom I looked up at the bluff I wanted to go to and realized there was no way I was getting up there. I went back the way I came and gave up on this scouting trip for today. I will have to try it again from the high side of the bluff.

Any time I find a timber, I consider it a good day.

As Matt says, "Happy Herpin!"

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