Trip Details

Location: Jackson County, Iowa

Weather: About 65 degrees. Low wind.

Time: 8:00 p.m.

Herpers: Don Becker, Jim Scharosch & Matt Ricklefs

Account by: Matt Ricklefs

Photos by: Matt Ricklefs

Thought of the Day: Things that go rattle in the night...

It was getting toward the end of the year, and as it turned out it was our last trip of the year. We went to my aunt and uncle's place that was one of our best locations, especially for Timber Rattlesnakes (Crotalus horridus) and our understanding of them in the field. I have been working around Timbers for over 25 years now and Jim has the same; and at this site we continue to greatly increase our knowledge.

Don had not been here yet and he graciously came along to help us with some projects we have here. Not only can we study the flora and fauna here, but it is undisturbed and we have the ability to find data from reliable sources to affect the habitat in a positive way. We spent the late afternoon on doing what we needed to do and then with very little light, did a little herping.

We found a juvenile Milk Snake (Lampropeltis triangulum) about 7 inches long that was bright and in nice shape.

Most of the milks here are such and the population is quite healthy as well.

Jim and Don worked a little more since Don had not been here yet. I went down to see my aunt Mary and uncle Carl and talk for a bit. After a short while Jim came in, said "Hi" and then added "...you might want to come up". I knew that could only mean one thing. They found a Timber, which Jim confirmed.

In the intro I noted we had added a lot of knowledge here. We also know the land well and where at least two main dens are and several heavily used dispersal areas and at least one if not two rookeries. The place where they found the Timbers (yes plural) was a place we have seen them before, but these were most likely getting ready for the overwinter. It was just down the hill from a main den and after conferring (after the fact) with our friend Jeff LeCLere it was noted that even if this wasn't always used as a den, it was close enough that it could be a kind of "alternate" den. What follows in the pictures are a series of finds that were hard to keep straight and we estimated that we saw somewhere in the neighborhood of seventeen Timbers. Along the way I even got a pic of a funny looking bald Bigfoot and Don peeking around looking for the ones tucked in deep. You will also see a picture of a shed we found along the way. The last picture shows a juvenile out but very close to a main opening where several adults were at and/or heading down.

It was quite amazing and you could even hear a few of them rattling as they went down and settled in.

It was a great find and more valuable information not only on their habits, but the location itself and how it is utilized.

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