Trip Details

Start Time: 5:30 p.m.

Weather: Sunny with only a few clouds. The high was 72 degrees. Little wind.

Location: Linn County, Iowa

Herper(s): Matt Ricklefs

Account and photos by Matt Ricklefs

Thought of the Day: "It's Back!"

My work day was over, the weather was nice and the call of the herps was upon me. I headed to a spot I frequent in hopes of finding a Bullsnake or whatever crossed my path. My first few areas did not produce anything yet, but last year we did quite well in these same areas. I think it will just be a little more time. As the grass and other vegetation is still low, I did spy out a few other things to flip that may increase the odds, so that's always a good thing.

I finally found my first catch, a Milk Snake (Lampropeltis triangulum).

This one was a little garfed up in a few places, but overall not bad. It was approximately twenty six inches in length. It partially cooperated for me, but was much more interested in beating a hasty retreat, which after a little while, I allowed it to do. It was late in the day and this one seemed to be ready to settle in for the night. That was all I found here and moved on to one other area.

The light was fading so I hit the hot spots in the next area. Eventually I did find one of the things I was looking for. It was a juvenile Bullsnake (Pituophis c. sayi).

This one was a little dirty and I suspect it had emerged recently. This one was about thirteen inches. It also was more interested in getting away and settling in for the night. Darn us herpers and our pictures! At least I was not a predator. I had posted a comment on FieldHerpForum a few days ago mentioning the belligerent and feisty disposition of Bullsnakes on occasion. I had been rethinking this, as the last several Bullsnakes I have encountered have been downright nice. This one was no exception and it was glad when I was done. HOWEVER, I was eventually proven right.

I have accounted before, and this is another one of now many times, that I have checked a metal box for a Bullsnake and have found one. Guess what? It was back!

Of course it is likely not the same Bullsnake, but this is I believe, the fourth time there has been one here. This Bullsnake was a good sized one at about 5 1/2 feet long. It was quite bulky too and with the size it was easy to discern that it was a female. As you can imagine, wrangling a 5 1/2 foot Bullsnake in a small area is not the easiest thing to do. Especially since she was VERY unhappy with me. I tried to get an in situ photo, but she quickly reared and retreated toward a hole that serves as an entrance and exit in the box. I have discovered to my dismay in the past that once they get down this a little, they are quite beyond retrieval. So I had to make a grab. I have the battle scar to prove it, although it was more of a graze than a full-on bite.

Thankfully my near superhuman herp reflexes kicked in. The whole time I wrangled and took pictures she was hissing and in full defense mode.

I believe we were both happy to be done. In the end I put her back where she was and did get a quick shot of her as she settled in.

She kept hissing for while as searched the area a bit more, but eventually found her way back down the hole.

That was all I found, but I was quite happy for a short herp trip. I did include a few pictures of each subject along with the battle scar evidence.

Looks like the next stop will be Kansas. There's no place like Kansas Toto!

Happy Herpin'!

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