Trip Details

Location: Jackson County, Iowa

Weather: Mid 70's, sunny, light breeze

Time: 11:00 a.m.

Herpers: Jim Scharosch

I headed to an area in Jackson County that I have been going to for many years. We haven’t seen many timber rattlesnakes at this site recently, but did get one last year. It was early in the season so I wasn’t really expecting timbers, but did expect to see rat snakes. I also wanted to get a look at the area for possible habitat restoration work in the future.

I walked the timber rattlesnake habitat, somewhat depressed at the cedar and other small trees that were choking out the areas that should be clear for rooking timbers. It would be a couple of good days work to dent the area and make it better again.

I made the long hike to a ratsnake den that we discovered a few years ago. As I climbed the massive hillside, I could see a Ratsnake (Pantherophis obsoletus) draped over the outcrop from halfway up.

It was a grizzled old five plus foot monster (for Iowa) ratsnake, still dirty from coming out of hibernation. It will spend a few more weeks hanging out on this outcrop, going in and out of the crevices and then leave for it’s summer hunting and breeding grounds.

I saw another one sticking its head out of a crevice but it retreated before I could get a photo.

A garter snake shot down the hill before I could get a picture, but as I was watching the ratsnake, I saw another Gartersnake (Thamnophis sirtalis) hanging on the side of the outcrop.

It was an odd position to see a gartersnake in.

I left to go to another site to check on some work we are doing there. While I walked around the timber den there, I found a small Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) hanging out in the leaves near the den opening.

It was a last year’s baby about a foot long. This is the earliest I have ever seen a timber in Iowa.

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