Trip Details

Start Time: 4:00 p.m.

Weather: Sunny. 76 degrees for a high. Mild wind.

Location: Linn Co. Iowa

Herpers: Matt Ricklefs

Account by: Matt Ricklefs

Photos by: Matt Ricklefs

Thought of the Day: That big snake hissed at me…

I had just gotten a new vehicle. A 2007 Hyundai Tucson. With the clearance, it is a much better herping vehicle than my 200 Olds Intrigue. Now the question would be what will the first snake find be for this vehicle? Of course anything is good, but it’s nice to christen a new vehicle with a “good” find. I went to one of my normal spots in hopes of perhaps a Bullsnake or Racer. That would be OK…

I walked around a field and flipped a board and nothing. As I walked around to the “pivot” side of the board something moved - quickly. It was dark, and even a little large. I felt confident that it was probably a nice sized Racer. It eluded me for a second or two as it was in weeds a little over my knees and then I got a clear shot and grabbed. It was pretty good size around…and then it hissed. Hmmmm, probably not a Racer. I pulled up to have an Eastern Hognose Snake in my hand (Heterodon platyrhinos).

This one was about 27 inches in length. It actually stayed in defense mode for quite some time.

Perhaps as it was on the move, but it worked out well because I was able to get some decent shots (even cleaning it off with some water I had since it was cooperating) before it decided to play dead.

Now that is a decent christening for a vehicle. I tucked this gal (large with eggs I suspect) in a safe spot as she was still “dead” and headed out. I was also to end up finding a Racer (Coluber constrictor) as well.

This was funny as it was one I have found before in this area. How do I know? It has a peculiar lump in one part of its upper back. It is a nice looking snake and does not seem to have an issue with this, but it does make it easy to ID. It is about 26 inches.

I moved on to another area and while traveling I spotted a good sized Fox Snake in the road. This one was about 32 inches. I of course swerved over and snatched it up before any traffic came and ran over the poor thing. I pulled over to a small housing development to take some pictures. This was not easy. This snake did NOT want to have its picture taken. It was very nice (did not bite) but was very mobile. I tried all the tricks and only got a few decent shots.

I even had some people stop by and ask me some questions to which I answered and did my best to show how good and nice snakes are (of course!). Finally I conceded and finding a suitable and safe place in the direction the snake was originally heading I let it go on its way.

I worked my last area and did find a nice looking Milk Snake (Lampropeltis triangulum) about 15 inches long.

I usually don’t find Milks here or at least have found very few over about 20 years, so it was a nice find.

All in all a great little herping excursion and one that I will remember especially fondly as it was the maiden voyage of my new herping vehicle.

Keep on herpin!

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