Trip Details

Location: Linn County, Iowa

Conditions: Mid 70's, partly cloudy

Time: 7:30 pm

Herpers: Austin Scharosch, Jim Scharosch

Austin and I ran into town to do a few errands and grab somthing to eat. We had no plans to herp at all, so we didn't bring the camera. I guess you never learn.

As we were heading home, we made the decision to stop off at a roadside board where we had found a few things in the past. Sometimes I will skip these little side trips if I don't have my camera, but we had turned up a hognose snake from an area not to far from here a couple of weeks before under about these same conditions so I thought it might be worth stopping.

We got there, turned the board and right away I saw a racer start to crawl off, I grabbed it by the tail to keep it from running away. I also noticed what at first glance looked like two bullsnakes coiled together. A few seconds later, my brain managed to wrap itself around what I was seeing and I said out loud, "Holy crap, that's a hognose!" I knew it was a different snake from the one we had found a few weeks before as it was longer and not as heavy bodied. We had hit a triple under this one board, a racer, a bullsnake and an eastern hognose. I had let go of the tail of the racer, and now it and the bullsnake were now nosing around in the grass under the board. At one point, the two met, and the racer struck at and bit the bullsnake twice. I thought that was an odd behavior.

The hoggie was sitting there perfectly coiled and would have made for some great in situ pictures, but of course I didn't have the camera. When we were driving to the spot I had said that if we found a hognose we were going to take it home and take some pictures. I wanted pics of the racer, but not bad enough to bring it home. So we picked up the hognose, who of course was now playing dead, and put the board back down. We hopped in the car with the now "dead" hognose. I don't collect, so I don't have any snake bags or anything to carry a snake around in. Austin had to hold the thing all the way home. It musked everywhere and slobbered all over the inside of my car.

We got home, showed it to all of the neighbors, and shot some pics. It was getting dark, but I managed to get a few decent shots.

Eastern Hognose (Heterodon platyrhinos)

I wanted my wife Laura to see it, and she got home about 10 pm. After showing her the snake we jumped back in the car and took it back to release it. The racer was still under the board when we got there.

It was an awesome little side trip. It would have been nice to have gotten pictures of all of the snakes in the triple, but I was okay with not having the chance. I had gone thirty years without seeing a hognose in Iowa until two weeks ago, now I have seen two. Crazy how things work. I hope this keeps up though!

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