Trip Details

Location: Delaware & Jackson Counties, Iowa

Weather: About 70 degrees. Sunny. Moderate wind.

Time: 12:30 p.m.

Herpers: Jim Scharosch & Matt Ricklefs

Account by: Matt Ricklefs

Thought of the Day: Water snake in the road - or is it????

It was a beautiful Saturday and even though it was getting a little late in the season, we decided to head out to a couple of spots was had not checked for a little while.

Our first stop was a nice little road cut we discovered a few years back that regularly yields Milk Snakes (Lampropeltis triangulum) and today it again did not disappoint.

Photos by Jim Scharosch

We uncovered a nice looking Milk about 16 inches long, which is a pretty normal size for this area. This one had shed fairly recently and was very bright looking so we took time to get a few shots. And a shot of me getting a shot of Jim getting a shot of Milk.

Photo by Matt Ricklefs

After that we found another one about the same size but right in the middle of shedding.

Photo by Matt Ricklefs

We took a quick in hand picture and let it go back to chillaxing and we moved on to our next spot.

Now this next spot we have been going to for MANY years. The last leg of the route has not changed any although we have improved our route getting to this spot. Occasionally we'll see a Brown Snake or Water Snake on the road as it is close to the river, but really not anything else. So, as we drove down the road and both spotted the tell-tale dark squiggle in the road with a fairly familiar pattern we thought probably Northern Water Snake as it was larger than a Brown Snake would be. It was not a squisher and was moving slow, but we did stop quickly and backed up and jumped out in a fashion that true field herpers would appreciate. As I walked up (I was out first as Jim was driving) I was surprised and very psyched to find a juvenile Black/Western Rat Snake (Scotophis obsoletus)!!!

Photos by Matt Ricklefs

Photos by Jim Scharosch

I made Jim play a bit of a guessing game just for fun and he too thought the find was pretty awesome. It's not that it is out of the realm of possibilities to find one as they are in the area, but a juvenile out on the crawl on the road a fair distance from where we usually find adults was very intriguing. We have also almost never found juveniles. Most of the ones we find are in the four foot plus range. Needless to say we did take some time getting some pictures. Part of this is because it was a good find, but mostly because it was VERY crawly and would not sit still even with our best and most patient efforts. We tried different settings and everything and it just wanted to be on its way. After a while we conceded and let it go on its way, putting it off the road but in the direction it was headed.

We then went to our "normal" spot and in walking up found a damned up puddle wherein we found a Green Frog (Lithobates clamitans).

Photo by Matt Ricklefs

A few snaps and we were on the way again. Our last finds were a couple of Milk Snakes (Lampropeltis triangulum) both in shed and approximately 17 inches long.

Photos by Matt Ricklefs

It was not a great day, but the rat snake find definitely made the trip! You just never know what's going to happen out in the field.

Until next time...

Read our disclaimer here...