Trip Details

Weather: Sunny with a high around 74 degrees.

Location: Linn County Iowa

Herpers: Matt Ricklefs

Account by: Matt Ricklefs

Photos by: Matt Ricklefs

Thought of the Day: First "bigs" of the year.

The weather was nice and it was the day before we left for our first out of state trip of the year. The first of three and this one to Missouri. I wanted to try and find a "big" in Iowa before we left. A "big" being something that grows larger than a Brown Snake or small Garter Snake and is more of a "trophy" snake (i.e. Milk Snake, Bullsnake, Fox Snake, etc.). Not that any find is not good and there are plenty of really cool smaller snakes, even Brown's but especially Redbellies, but it's nice to get the "big" ones. I think you get the picture.

I hit a normal spot and the first find was a "big" - a Milk Snake (Lampropeltis triangulum)!

It always amazes me that Milks can be rather advantageous of where they occur and by an open field in a sandy area is always a fun place to find them. This one was about nineteen inches, dark, but still pretty with nice blotches. I was pleased to get a big in Iowa before going abroad, but really, it doesn't matter. It was just good to get out and I thought to myself, it is finally starting to get going here in Iowa.

The next find I walked up and it was another "big." This was a Racer (Coluber constrictor) of the Yellowbelly/Blue intergraded variety.

This one was still in the very cool phase of not quite an adult but not a juvenile either and had both patterning. It was about twenty inches. It did was most Racer do, fight a bit, then calm then coil their head beneath the rest of the coils. After a while I was able to get some good shots. I'd rather work with this than a really squirmy snake that just wants to slither away.

My next find was under an old wood pallet that we had set out a year prior. It had settled in nicely. Usually pallets are not good as they do not provide enough continuous flat area, but the top on this one was a solid piece so it was great. Under said pallet was another Racer.

This one was an adult and a good sized one at that at about forty inches! It was in good shape and had great colors. When I flipped the pallet it was right on the far corner and all I could see was its head. It darted under and I thought it had gone in a hole on the back side so I put the pallet down and ran around. It had doubled back and was going back under when I caught it. A good lesson in snake hunting is never give up and keep your eyes open. Often snakes do strange things like this and it can give you the opportunity you need to make a grab. We were to find this to be true on our Missouri trip, but that is another post!

Next we head to the "show me" state and we hope we do "get shown" some snakes!

Happy Herpin'!

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