Trip Details

Location: Franklin, Linn and Miami Counties, Kansas

Conditions: Sunny and warm. High of about 86 degrees.

Time: 9:30 am to 4:30 pm

Herpers: Jim, Laura & Austin Scharosch

On Saturday morning we headed back to the spot where we had found the Glass Lizard the night before. We arrived about 9:30 am, got out of the truck and herped an east-facing hillside, turning up a few skinks and scorpions and not much else. We went to a south facing pile of really big boulders and started to walk around. There were supposed to be Timber Rattlers in here, so we were checking each crack and crevice. Soon we all heard the sound of a rattle buzzing, a sound that, once heard, cannot be mistaken for anything else. We found the snake just as it was going under a really big rock. I was looking around the rock, and then looked over and saw a big Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) sunning under the open edge of an enormous boulder.

The Timber was pushing four feet long and was nice and chunky. As you can see in the pictures, it had only two segments to its rattle. It could still rattle pretty loud. It had a peachy color around the belly edges and the scales were shiny enough they reflected the sun. It was bigger than any Timbers we had found in Iowa, and I have also not seen one with the peach color this one had. The grass in this area was pretty deep, and after seeing how agitated these snakes were, Laura got kind of nervous for her and Austin. Neither of them had snake boots, so they tread a bit more carefully for the rest of the morning.

We moved to another area in this habitat.. After a few minutes, Laura spotted another Timber sitting in a perfect coil among some rocks.

It was smaller, maybe two and a half feet long. It was a brown one, very similar to the majority of the Timbers we find in northeast Iowa. It never moved a muscle, not even flicking it’s tongue as we moved around it and took pictures for about ten minutes. We moved on, and turned a couple ton of rocks. We found a ten-inch long Worm Snake (Carphophis vermis).

I really like Worm Snakes; they remind me a lot of the African and Asian Sand Boas that we used to keep a few years ago. It always makes me happy to find them. They are not very cooperative posing for photos though. After turning a bunch more rocks, we started walking back to the truck. Laura saw something shooting thru the grass, and we figured out it was another Slender Glass Lizard (Ophisaurus attenuatus). After chasing it for a couple minutes, we managed to snag it.

This one calmed down more quickly, and did not drop its tail like the one from the night before. It was also a bit larger, at about twenty inches long. We got some nice photos but were unable to get any good shots when we set it down, as it took off instantly. We continued along to the truck, and saw a third Glass Lizard. We didn’t attempt to catch this one, but watched it shoot under a brush pile. We took off for eastern Kansas.

It was getting kind of late in the afternoon now, so after grabbing some lunch, we went to a quarry where we had some luck a couple of years ago. It was getting pretty hot and we struck out at the quarry.

Normally we drive around eastern Kansas and find stuff to turn around junk barns and road cuts. It seems like people have been cleaning up a lot of these sites, and there are a lot fewer areas to find stuff. We drove around a lot and didn’t find much stuff to turn. It was kind of frustrating.

We decided to head to a road cut in Linn county. It was one that Jeff LeClere had told us he had had some luck at a few years ago. It was obvious that others had been herping the area, as a lot of the rocks looked like they had been turned, and some rocks had been moved to what looked like strategic “habitat improvement” locations. We hit the north most road cut first and after a while turned up our fourth Great Plains Rat Snake (Elaphe emoryi) of the trip.

It was an adult, about twenty-four inches long, and really nicely patterned. I was pretty happy with the find.

We moved to the south road cut and checked out a tin pile in a pasture. It didn’t look very good, and it was way too hot this late in the afternoon for tin. So, of course, we found a Milk Snake (Lampropeltis triangulum) under one of the pieces of tin miles from anything even remotely “milksnakey”.

It brought to mind the words that Mike Pingleton said a couple times during our trip to Illinois earlier this year; “Snakes are where you find them”. It was an eighteen-inch long specimen, with nice bright colors and a cool red area on the top of the head, completely surrounded by black. It wasn’t very cooperative for the photo session and we released it back to its sauna under the tin. We checked the road cut up and down both sides and saw nothing but a few skinks.

This ended the day for us, and we headed back to the hotel. We had had a good morning, the afternoon was frustrating, but at least it ended on a pretty good note.

Read our disclaimer here...