Trip Details

Location: Linn and Buchanan Counties, Iowa

Weather: 75 degrees, partly cloudy, windy

Time: 12:30

Herpers: Laura Scharosch, Jim Scharosch

Account by: Jim Scharosch

Photos by: Jim Scharosch except where noted

My wife Laura and I try to get out and herp together at least once a season. Today was that day, as we didn't have a lot going on and the weather was pretty decent. We made a quick run to a local bullsnake spot but didn't come up with anything. There was a nearby rocky den site area so we swung over there. We kinda cherry-picked the best rocks there because we had a much larger site we were going to visit and didn't want to spend too much time here. So while I was flipping the best rocks, Laura turned a smallish crappy rock and found the only snake we were to see at this site, a small Milk Snake (Lampropeltis triangulum).

It was in shed, which was to be the theme for the day, so we only grabbed a quick, in-hand photo.

Our next stop was a location we have been visiting every year for as long as we have been herping. It is close to home and is good for at least one visit a year. It usually turns up milk snakes and fox snakes, and sometimes racers. It wasn't long before the first snake turned up. I was about to flip a rock and found a Fox Snake (Elaphe vulpina) on the crawl.

Again, it was in shed so I didn't take any time for posed shots. We cut it loose and moved on. We flipped almost all of the rocks in the area where we find stuff most often and didn't turn anything else up. I was beginning to think that everyone had already dispersed from this den site. We had two rocks left to turn, and as I reached to turn one, a fox snake slipped out from underneath the rock next door. I grabbed it, and turned the small rock it was coming out from under to make it easier to extricate it. There was another fox snake and a milk snake hanging out there! Again, all three were in shed so no posed shots were taken.

Photo by Laura Scharosch

We turned them loose back into the rocks to hide out until they could shed.

Photo by Laura Scharosch

With all of the snakes in the area in shed, I wonder if they were already dispersed into the nearby grasslands and were coming back into the rocks to hide out while shedding. It seems like rock-flipping season may be over already here in Iowa.

As we were heading home, I yelled "Snake in the road, snake in the road!!" as I locked up the brakes on the truck. I could tell it was an adult Racer (Coluber constrictor) so I knew I had to hurry.

Photos by Laura Scharosch

I managed to get in front of him only because the road at this point was dry and dusty and the gravel was compacted down which slowed the ridiculously fast snake down a bit. It wasn't in shed, but it was also obvious it wasn't going to sit and pose for photos so we took a couple of in-hand shots then turned it loose into the ditch.

As we took off about fifty feet further down the road we saw another snake in the road, this one much smaller. First thought was a brown snake just based on size, but I quickly realized that the shape was wrong, and got out of the car to find a yearling racer!

It was cool to see the solid colored adult and the highly patterned juvenile back to back. This one actually sat for pictures which was nice because it was a very pretty snake. It was about fourteen inches in length.

That was it for the day. Rock flipping season seems to be winding down but I'm glad I got a chance to get out with Laura.

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