Trip Details

Start Time: 11:00 a.m.

End Time: 2:00 p.m.

Weather: Sunny with few clouds. Around 73 degrees. Little wind.

Location: Jackson Co. Iowa

Herpers: Matt Ricklefs

Account & photos by: Matt Ricklefs

Thought of the Day: Autumn Timbers

It was my mother-in-law’s birthday and my wife and I decided that we would spend the day with her. It was suggested that we stop at her brother’s house. This is one of my fave places to herp, so as a result I said I wanted to spend some time herping in the morning. It was agreed, and I prepared for what looked like a good day. The morning was fairly cool, but by 11:00 when I arrived the sun was warming up the open rock outcroppings quite nicely. I hoped that the Timbers especially would be heading back toward the dens and possibly out catching some rays today. I was correct…

The first adult Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) actually saw me first and rattled in displeasure. I saw it as it was disappearing under the outcropping it was already sheltered by. It was about 3 feet long. Fortunately, there was also a juvenile that had the same idea of sunning, but was a little slower taking cover. I was able to grab this one and get a few pics.

The juvenile was about 9 inches. I let it go back under where it was when done.
The next find was a triple. OK, they weren’t Timbers. They were Brown Snakes (Storeria dekayi). I saw two of them and when I finally made the grab, there were actually three.

The biggest one (in shed and about 10 inches) flattened out and I got a nice shot.

The next find is one that is always welcome. It was a Milk Snake (Lampropeltis triangulum). This one was about 13 inches long. It was very “bitey” and did not want to sit still for pictures. After some patient wrangling, I got a few OK shots and headed to another part of the area I was in.

After seeing the adult Timber quickly move under the rocks, I was very wary. The outcroppings facing the sun were definitely the place to be and my next find again showed this. It was an adult Timber – again about 3 feet long.

The next find was another Milk Snake. This one was a little bigger at about 17 inches and was a bit bulkier.

It had recently shed and had nice color. After I had gotten pics of the milk I headed to a rock that on past trips has paid off for Timbers. I had not even got there and I found one out traveling…quite quickly I might add. I took some time and got some fair shots of this one.

Once it was miffed, it posed pretty well. Considering it was already on the move, it was certainly wary. Eventually I let it go and it headed straight for the rock outcropping.
The next find was my third and last Milk. At two feet long, it was a fair amount larger than the previous two. It posed fairly well.

The next find was a Five-Line Skink (Eumeces fasciatus). This was about a 6 inch female and was…slightly posed.

I just couldn’t resist.

I thought I was done, but always remember to check one rock outcrop that my uncle has said “always” has rattlesnakes under it. I had never found any before, but this was the day. It moved quickly under, but I was a bit quicker. I was down fairly low on the hillside and down here there is an open grassy area. I got some pics of the Timber here and even had my uncle, aunt and wife come out and see it as it is about 30 yards from the house. My mother-in-law did not come and see. Now this one was pretty excited.

Although it was found not far from the house and my uncle knows they are there, I did agree to move it further up the hillside.

Not a bad day. I was hoping for a Black Rat Snake too, but I’ll have to do with what I found. I am definitely not complaining.
Until next time (and maybe next season), happy herpin’!

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