Trip Details

Location: Central Massachusetts

Conditions: High of around 75, mostly sunny

Time: 10:00 am thru 1:30 pm

Herpers: Austin Scharosch, Jim Scharosch

We went on a family trip to Massachusetts to visit my wife Laura's parents. Usually we end up going there in the heat of July, but this year we decided to move the trip earlier in the year. It had been a fairly cool spring in the midwest, but the northeast had already had their fair share of hot weather so I wasn't sure what we might find. Massachusetts is not an easy place to look for snakes. Lots of forested areas, not a lot of open ground, and not a lot of flippable rock or artificial cover. I had tried a few times in the past, but had only managed to turn up a few garter snakes.

I had made contact with mikez from the fieldherpforum, and he was kind enough to offer me some help with a location. He told me we could expect to find garter snakes, milk snakes and smooth green snakes. I was especially keen to find the latter, because I have not seen one for many years, and have never photographed one.

Austin and I headed out to a small mountain in central Massachusetts. The drive wasn't too far and we were there after about an hour. We had a hike of just over a mile up the mountain to get to the location we were going to be working. It was a fairly long hike, and I was glad when we finally reached the peak. We took a short rest, and I took a few pictures of the view.

I soon located the area we were going to work, and we got started. It was an open area with flat rocks that were turnable, something that seemed almost foreign in Massachusetts.

We worked our way thru the area, not finding much at first, except a couple of small American Toads (Bufo americanus).

After about 20 minutes I found a Milk Snake (Lampropeltis triangulum).

Massachusetts milks are obviously pure eastern milks, unlike the milks we have in our part of Iowa which have some red milk influence. This snake was about twenty-two inches long and a nice brick red color. It was warm, and it was quite the battle to get it to pose for pictures.

I released it, turned a rock, turned another and found another milk snake.

This one was huge, at a little over three feet in length. It was more of a gray color as opposed to the red of the first milk. It was also really warm and bit me A LOT! I am used to pissed off milk snakes, but this was the worst one I have ever tried to work with. I did eventually get it to sit, and luckily I didn't pass out from the loss of blood.

I released the snake and it wasn't more than three or four rocks later that I found another milk snake.

This one was similar to the first one both in color and size. It was, however, going into shed so I didn't take a lot of time photographing it.

I turned the snake loose and started to work the rocks some more. It wasn't more than five minutes before I found another milk snake. At this point, Austin was getting a bit frustrated. All herpers understand how it works, but you still can't help getting a bit frustrated when the other guy is finding everything. He is a really good sport about it though.

This milk was similar in coloration to the second one, but with slightly larger black borders on the blotches. It was smaller too at about thirty inches in length. This one was a bit calmer for photographs as well.

After releasing it, I made Austin switch sides with me so he could work the side I had been on. After about ten minutes he quietly pulled another milk snake out of the rocks.

This one might have been the nicest of the group, with cleaner and brighter red than the earlier snakes had. It was about two feet long. I was quite happy that he had found a snake too.

We had had such good luck, and we realized we were working our way down the mountain and we would have to hike back up to reach the trail down to the car. We hadn't seen a green snake, but we were pretty happy with what we had seen and were not looking forward to herping our way down the mountain then having to hike all the way back up before going back down to the car!

We decided to not risk putting a bad ending on what had been such a good day, so we headed out. Looking back now, I kinda wish we had kept going on the off chance we might have found a green snake. I guess there is always next time!

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