Trip Details

Location: Central Missouri

Conditions: Sunny, high in the middle 70's

Time: 11:00 am to 3:00 pm

Herpers: Mike Pingleton, Wayne Brekhus, Jim Scharosch

Photos and account by Jim Scharosch (except as noted)

We got out around 9:00 am after we had a nice breakfast Rachel made for us. We had a drive ahead of us, so wanted to get an earlier start. Today was the day where I had my best shot at finding the perfect "holbrooki" king snake. We got to the first glade around 11:00 am, and found some of the smaller fossorial snakes right away. It's always nice to find those early and get some pics out of the way.

Mike found a couple of Rough Earth Snakes (Virginia striatula). One was really chunky, so I took some pictures of it.

It wasn't long before a Western Worm Snake (Carphophis vermis) turned up.

We walked up to the more open part of the glade and started turning rocks. After a while, Wayne called out that he had a Speckled King Snake (Lampropeltis getulus holbrooki).

It was a juvenile and still had a lot of the bar pattern across it's back. It was a very pretty snake, but with the patterning, it wasn't the snake I wanted to photograph.

We returned to our rocks, and after a bit I flipped a Missouri Tarantula (Aphonopelma hentzi). I'm not a spider guy, but I like tarantulas. They are fun to see.

I went up the hill a ways to work the top edge of the glade. We were still seeing little snakes, though not in the numbers we saw them in the shady part of the glade. A while later, I flipped a rock and found another king snake. This one was larger than the one Wayne had found, but was still a juvenile. It was a very nice snake, but it was dull and looked like it was about to go into shed.

Photo by Mike Pingleton

It had a little bit of the bar pattern on the neck. Looking back on the pictures now, it was a lot nicer than I thought at the time. I wish I would have spent more time getting better pictures of it. Thanks to Mike for taking the shot of me with the snake.

A little while later Wayne found another king snake.

Wayne was right that this area had a lot of kings. This one was a little bigger again than the one I found, and the dots were a lot larger. Again, this snake looks a lot better now that I look back on the pictures. Even though I got better shots of this one than the one I found, I wish I would have tried a couple different poses. Oh well, another reason to go back down there!!

On the way out, we stopped at a small outcrop of rock. There was a perfect cap rock on top of the outcrop. I "knew" there was something under it when I walked up on it. It was one of those rocks you get excited about when you see it. Usually they don't pay off, but sometimes....

This time it did. Under the rock was a Great Plains Ratsnake (Elaphe guttata emoryi).

Wayne was very excited to see it, as they are fairly rare in Missouri. Though I understood his enthusiam, I had a harder time getting excited about it as I had just seen a bunch of them in Kansas the week before. It was also pretty beat up, and in shed, so I didn't work hard at photos.

We headed off to another area, and as we were just getting out of the car, Wayne spotted a large Black Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta) laying in the needles of some pine trees. Here is a pic of Mike taking a picture of the snake. I didn't work too hard at getting my own shots of the snake.

A while later, I found an Eastern Narrowmouth Toad (Gastrophryne carolinensis).

It was a first for me, as I have only previously seen the Great Plains species in Kansas.

That find wrapped up the trip. Special thanks to Ryan and Mike for hanging out with me, and extra special thanks to Wayne and Rachel for letting me stay at their house and for feeding me.

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