Trip Details

Location: Northeastern Missouri

Conditions: Windy and warm, high about 80 degrees

Time: 10 am thru 5 pm

Herpers: Ryan Thies, Jim Scharosch

Account and Photos by: Jim Scharosch

I headed off to Missouri for a three day trip. I have always wanted to see a "pure" Speckled Kingsnake, and I decided to give it a good effort this year. I left for Missouri after work on Friday, and eventually pulled into Cuivre State Park. The campground was nearly full, and my neighbors were really noisy. The only flat spot I could set up my tent at the campsite I picked was about five feet from the road. Oh well,what are you going to do? I guess I wasn't there to sleep anyway.

I broke camp Saturday morning and headed off to meet up with Ryan Thies. I herped with him and his dad a couple years ago in Illinois, and had a good time. We were going to make an effort to find a crayfish snake, another snake I have wanted to see for a while. I met Ryan, and the the sun was shining and it was already starting to get warm. We worked a backwater of the Mississippi river. We were in a muddy area with logs and rocks along the shore. We worked a while without seeing anything, then Ryan found this small Diamond-backed Watersnake (Nerodia rhombifer).

We worked a long rocky section of shoreline, and spotted a large diamond-backed watersnake laying on the shore. I snuck up on it, and as I reached to snag it, realized it was dead. It was strange, as you couldn't see any damage to the snake, but there it lay. Maybe someone hit it with a rock or something. While we stood there, another good sized diamond-backed swam up, saw us, then stuck his head into the underwater plants to hide. His tail was still in view, so I grabbed him up for a few pictures.

We worked along the shoreline some more and turned up a couple of Northern Water Snakes (Nerodia sipedon).

After a bit, I flipped another rock and found my target for the day, a Graham's Crayfish Snake (Regina grahamii).

It sure was beautiful, NOT!! It was going into shed and it's head was kinda gnarled up. I found one, and it was nasty. We moved along the shoreline and Ryan spotted another crayfish snake in a bush over the water. This one was beautiful, but it dropped into the water and didn't pop back up where I might snag it for pictures. We worked the area for another half hour or so without seeing anything else then moved on.

The next spot we went to was a hillside tin site. We flipped a lot of tin here, it was a really nice area, but we worked it over and saw nothing but a couple of ringnecks until we got to the very last tin. Here, I flipped this nice Milk Snake (Lampropeltis triangulum).

It wouldn't pose for me at all, so all my pictures pretty much sucked. It sat still for Ryan, maybe the snake was pissed at me for flipping finding him.

After the tin site, we hiked up to a glade way back into the woods. It was a long hike, but the glade was really nice, the rocks were great. We worked the glade over really hard, but all we turned up was a couple of worm snakes. I didn't take any pictures of them. Ryan and I were both suprised that we didn't turn up more stuff. The glade looked like it had not been touched this year, and we couldn't figure out the lack of herps. That's the way it goes though, sometimes things don't work out the way you want.

Thanks to Ryan for spending the day with me, and getting me a lifer, even if it was hideous.

Ryan took off, and I headed down to the next campsite. It was full, so I called Mike Cravens and he offered to let me crash on his couch. I finally got to meet Mike, his friend Brian Scheidt, his dog Trevor and Mike's dog Quinn. We tipped a few brews and got ready to head out the next morning.

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