Trip Details

Location: Stoddard County, Missouri

Conditions: Sunny, high in the upper 70's

Time: 11:00 am thru 6 pm

Herpers: Jeff LeClere, Mike Pingleton, Jim Scharosch

Account by: Jim Scharosch

We started off the trip in Stoddard county, Missouri. We arrived in the evening and set up our tents on the soggy ground in the campground of the wildlife area. By flashlight light we turned up this Southern Leopard Frog (Rana sphenocephala).

It was a new species for me.

While walking around Jeff found this Fowlers Toad (Bufo fowleri), and a while later I found another.

We held onto it until morning to get some pictures.

In the morning we located this Diamondbacked Water Snake (Nerodia rhombifer), the first of many we would see during the trip.

After breaking camp we headed out to our first location. It was a rock covered bluff top location, overlooking a swamp below. The Cottonmouths (Agkistrodon piscivorus) were everywhere. I think we found thirty-one on this hillside before we were done. I didn't take a lot of Cottonmouth pics, as there were so many of them. Here a few though.

We also found a couple of baby Broad-banded Water Snakes (Nerodia fasciata confluens) down near the swamp under logs.

This was a target for me on this trip. I was glad to see them, though I wanted to find a larger one for pictures.

On the way up the bluff I found this baby broad-banded water snake that appeared as though it had not fully developed.

The eyes were tiny and the head was very narrow. It was an odd looking snake, but it appears as though it was doing okay though it appeared to be blind.

We decided to move on and work the edges of the canals. As we were driving over, we found another cottonmouth crossing the road. A bit farther along we found a juvenile Black Racer (Coluber constrictor) crossing the road.

As I carried it over to the forest to take some pictures, I walked right past an adult racer. Mike spotted it, and we took pictures of both animals.

We then moved on to the canals. As on the bluff, the canal banks were thick with cottonmouths. It was one of those days where when you moved along the bank, if you went fifty feet without seeing a cottonmouth you started to wonder what was wrong. It was turning into a game of "Let's see how many cottonmouths we can find".

Walking the canal edge, we turned up another adult racer. This one tagged me in the finger with a pretty good shot, my first snake bite of the year.

I spotted a subadult broad-banded water snake on the high canal bank. I went to snatch it, and it dropped down into the water. I figured I could reach down and snag it with my tongs, and I did just as my feet slid out and I dumped into the canal. Luckily the water wasn't deep. I didn't drop the snake though, so I got to take my pics of a larger broad-band! I wish my pics had been better.

We saw a few more cottonmouths as the sun started to set. Our total for the day ended up being 57. We would have seen a lot more if we hadn't spent half the day looking for a better camp site.

Mike had an entertaining run-in with a yellow bellied water snake that gave him a good scare while he was photographing a cottonmouth, but I didn't get any pictures of that. He will probably tell the story on his website better than I could here, so I will wait and see.

Mike cooked an awesome camp dinner and we headed off to Tennessee.

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