Trip Details

Location: Wabaunsee & Potawatamie Counties, Kansas

Conditions: From cloudy and cool in the morning, but mostly sunny and warm after about 10:00 am About 75 to 80 degrees.

Time: 1:30 pm to 7:00 pm

Herpers: Jim Scharosch & Matt Ricklefs

Sunday was van fixing day. We still had a donut spare on and we needed to get this fixed some way or another. We knew that being Sunday it would not be easy. As it was, we trekked to the nearest large town, to a Sears and an hour and a half later we were on our way.

It was 1:30 pm. It was warm and windy. Gusts had to have been between twenty to thirty miles per hour and this was later confirmed by the local weather news. On our way back to some places we planned to check we noticed a junk area by a storage garage. Being on a "hard core" trip we stopped to check this out. It was favorable, but as warm as it was it was hard to say what would be out. After covering some ground Jim found a Black Rat Snake (Elaphe o. obsoleta). It was ready to shed, a little beat up, but seemed to be cooperative to documentation. It was about twenty-eight inches long. This was an expected find as this area did look "Black Rat Snakey". After we got some video we let it go and headed out. We had worried that being Sunday we would not be able to get out much. We were pleased to be herpin’ by 1:30 pm and this first find was a welcome one to get started.

Our next stop was what we call "Memory Hill" as it was a place we have been many times and had a hard time finding last year. We did get some maps and documented all our areas closely for years to come. Something to keep in mind if you go out herpin’, especially in a strange, far off land...

We had only caught Collared Lizards, Great Plains Skink, Prairie Ringnecks and this was also a good spot for Lined Snakes. We had also caught a Flathead Snake last year. We had never caught anything "big" on these hills...until today. After only about three or four rocks turned, Jim found a BEAUTIFUL Central Plains/Red Milk Snake intergrade (Lampropeltis t. gentilis/syspila).

This one was about fifteen inches long and was flawless. It could have been captive born it was so perfect. It is the best one we have seen so far. I’ll let pictures do the talking. We did discover a new technique. I have mentioned that it was VERY windy. On top of that, the Milk was not very cooperative and kept crawling away. We tried cupping and that didn’t work. We got the best pictures we could and moved on. Later we discovered this new technique.

In searching for the Lined Snake we uncovered a lot of ringnecks. One however was unique. It appeared to be anerythristic. It had a gray top as usual, but no red, yellow or orange. It was about three and a half inches long and getting ready to shed, but we have seen them in this condition before and you can always still see the belly color. This one was white around the neck and on the belly. Other than that it appeared as any others do. This was a neat find and although it would have been interesting to see what this looked like as an adult, we let it go on it’s way and moved on. We always have the pictures!

We searched for Lined Snakes. These are small and can be found in the area, but there are about a billion rocks and it takes time. It is always fun to find these and we wanted to complete our list with at least one. We did find several Collared Lizards (Crotaphytus collaris), both male and female and no trip would really be complete without catching some of these. These are very common on the hills and can be found with little effort.

Finally, we did manage to find a Lined Snake (Tropidoclonion lineatum).

This one was a full grown one at about eight inches long, but was blue eyed and ready to shed. That was OK, we got one! It too was difficult to document and we tried all our techniques. Finally we decided that if we let it go back under the rock and turn it back over it would be calmed down and sit still for photos. It worked pretty well. We got some pics and decided we would let it calm down and go document a large Collared Lizard close by. Collared Lizards tend to stay in close proximity and can often be chased from one rock to the next one and back again. Over and over. It’s fun. After this game of tag we decided that the Lined Snake had enough time to calm down and we would go back for more. Apparently there is a time limit for the snake was gone. That was OK, we got some good pics. we did go back and fortunately the Milk was still there. The technique had paid off and we got much better pics of the Milk Snake this time!! We were done here and bade memory Hill a fond goodbye until another time.

We went back to our place to find copperheads from the day before and did find two. Both were very similar to what we had seen the day before and indeed at least one of them may have been the same one. These were both about fourteen inches long and were a bit grouchy. After documenting, we moved on as it was getting late.

It was about 5:30 pm by now and we decided to go back to the tim pile we found the Bullsnakes in the day before. On the way we saw something else we had not seen in this area. A Texas Horned Lizard. We poised ourselves for a quick catch and I got some video before in case we missed. Alas, it was a DOR. It was in great shape, but had been killed probably earlier that day. This was disappointing as this would have been a good catch. We at least know they occur in this area and hopefully will find a live one at a future date. We hit the spot and did not find a thing. This can happen. It is a lot of being at the right place at the right time. You need to keep trying.

This was not the best way to end the day, but so it was. For not expecting a great day these finds were good ones and we considered it a successful day!

We are moving to another part of the state tomorrow and hope to continue our good luck. We shall see. As we said, it is all about being in the right place at the right time...

Happy Herpin’!!

Read our disclaimer here...