Trip Details

Location: Jackson County, Iowa

Weather: Cool. High of about 69 degrees. Partly sunny very early with overcast conditions and light rain showers quickly moving in. Low wind.

Time: 11:21 a.m.

Herpers: Jim Scharosch & Matt Ricklefs

Account by: Matt Ricklefs

Photos by: Jim Scharosch & Matt Ricklefs

Thought of the Day: No Timber in its right mind would be out today…

It was Memorial Day weekend so the spring herping season was coming to a close. The initial weather prediction was fair, but continued to get worse. We decided that it was going to be at least good enough to go out and figured it was late enough in the season that things should still be out moving around. The day ended up turning worse than we expected.

A sure sign of a cooler and slower herping day is when we take time to get pictures of Five-Lined Skinks (Eumeces fasciatus).

Photos by Matt Ricklefs

Although the first one was an adult male with the nice red on its head and the second was a female dug in, but with nice color on her tail. Both were about 5 inches.

We did expect that it would be an alright day for Milk Snakes (Lampropeltis triangulum) and we did find four smaller 5-10 inch milks in varying degrees of shed but we were not finding them in the numbers we are used to for this area.

Photos by Matt Ricklefs

Photo by Jim Scharosch

Even some of the “nice rocks” that we usually find them under, especially larger adults, did not pay off. We also had not seen any Timbers. As it continued to get cloudier and was cool we had pretty much given up hope for one.

The odd thing about perseverance is that it really does pay off sometimes when you least expect it.

When we were about to give up hope, around a nice outcrop that didn’t even go really far back sat a nice, gravid 4 foot Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus).

Photos by Matt Ricklefs

Amazing. She was obviously hanging out there most likely from wandering looking for a place as a rookery for her babies and ended up here. She was likely trying to get whatever sun was out. She was a healthy looking snake and actually sat fairly well for us and then went defensive.

Photo by Matt Ricklefs

After taking our share of pictures, she decided she had enough and we helped her find her way back under the outcrop.

Photos by Matt Ricklefs

Just when all hope was lost we found a beautiful Timber. Amazing. Of course it does not always turn out that way, but today it did. For the spring we had not gotten skunked when we were looking for Timbers although we had a couple of close, lucky calls.

On the way out we found a nice gravid Brown Snake (Storeria dekayi) about 9 inches long and I got one of the better “in hand” shots I have ever gotten and a few nice pose pictures.

Not a great day, but finding the largest Timber we had seen in Iowa this year, was worth the trip out.

When you think you are done, keep going. At the very least you can say you gave it all you had! Until next time. Happy Herpin’

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