Trip Details

Location: Benton County, Iowa

Weather: Clear skies and temps in the low 70's. Low wind.

Time: 4:30 p.m.

Herpers: Jim Scharosch

Account by: Jim Scharosch

Photos by: Jim Scharosch

The weather was warm, and a cool down was coming, so I thought it would be nice to get out today. I was going to hit an old standby spot in Linn County, but at the last moment I changed my mind and went to a location I have been visiting for the last few years in Benton County. This spot has held garter snakes, brown snakes and a few milk snakes on past visits.

I arrived around 4:30 and started turning rocks. It wasn't long before I turned up this Eastern Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis). It was near shed so I didn't spend much time photographing it.

I worked a three quarters of the hill without seeing anything else, even under some very nice rocks. I was feeling a bit let down. Then I came to a rock that I think I placed on the hillside a year or two ago. The rock was too perfect to have been a natural occurrence. I knew that if I got skunked on this rock I would probably get skunked the rest of the hillside. I turned the rock, and found a double, a Racer (Coluber constrictor) and a Milk Snake (Lampropeltis triangulum).

The racer posed for me, probably a side effect from the cooler temperatures of the shaded portion of the hillside.

It was about twenty inches long and had nice blueish coloration.

The milk snake was pretty nice.

It had a buckskin background coloration along the spine and light red saddles for this part of the state. It was about twenty-two inches long.

I released them both under the rock under which I had found them and proceeded to turn more rocks, now feeling better about my prospects for the last quarter of the hillside. Those good feelings proved warranted when less than a minute later I turn up another milk snake.

This one was smaller than the last, at around sixteen inches in length. It had the more typical gray background color and blood red saddles. I released it and moved on.

I worked the top of the hill where I was turning some tiny rocks. I went to set one rock back down then realized there had been a snake under it that I had nearly missed. It was a last year's baby milk snake.

It was about seven inches in length and looked like a typical baby milk from this part of the state.

About five minutes after finishing shooting pics of the baby, I was turning some more small rocks and got a glimpse of milk snake coil in the rocks. I snagged it and pulled it out of the pile.

It was another adult, and at two feet it was about the same size as the first milk of the day. Like the last snake, it also had the grayish background coloration and lighter red saddles. Photos, release, turn rocks. Not more than five feet away was the final milk snake of the evening.

This one was a bit skinny and right around eighteen inches in length.

As I walked back to the car I turned a couple of rocks that I had skipped on my way in. Under one I found a second racer.

It was about the same size as the first racer. I took an in-situ photo of the racer and returned it's rock shelter to how I had found it.

A few feet away I found the second garter snake of the day.

This one was freshly shed, in fact, I found it's shed under a rock a couple feet from where I found the snake. It puffed up and bluffed like it was pretty tough. It was a very pretty snake, as garter snakes go.

That was it for the day. Five milk snakes, two racers and two garter snakes on a spur of the moment trip to a spot within ten minutes of my house. Ya gotta like that.

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