Trip Details

Location: Jackson County, IA

Weather: 80 degrees. Sunny through dusk. Seasonably warm but pleasant.

Time: 6:00 p.m.

Herpers: Jim Scharosch & Matt Ricklefs

Account by: Matt Ricklefs

Photos by: Jim Scharosch & Matt Ricklefs

Happy first day of Summer/Summer Solstice! What better way of taking advantage of the longest day of the year than to get a little after work herpin’ in.

We’ve gathered enough intel from our primary location for Timber Rattlesnakes that we can go up there at any time of the season and usually find someone. At this time of the year it is rooking females and a few young stragglers that are still hanging around. It was a beautiful night to be out.

A few weeks earlier, Jim and company had found a Timber in an outcrop near the road. It always looked like a good spot, but only within the last couple of years had we actually seen them there. Actually Jim had seen them. I have always said it looked good, but never seen one - until tonight.

Right where they had seen one weeks earlier and very, very likely the same one, was our first Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus).

Photos by Matt Ricklefs

She was approximately 40 inches long. I say she as we theorize that she is a rooking female, as she has been there for three weeks now and there are not a lot of reasons to keep an adult timber in one outcrop for so long at this time of year. At similar outcrops at a relative distance from known overwinter sites, we have found others rooking. When/if we find juveniles, we can add a little more weight to that theory for this particular outcrop, but regardless, it is a good guess. We kept the disturbance to a minimum, got only a few in situ photos and moved on.

This is an area that through a very wonderful collective effort has been our Habitat Restoration Project by removing cedar trees that have choked out and impeded the growth of a lot of the other plants and trees. The habitat is already looking better with the removals and in part of the area that has been cleared, we have found timbers already. They may have been using the area and we just didn’t see them with all the cedars, but the truth is it was likely so overgrown that only when we opened it back up have they started to utilize it. Again, another theory, but after all the hard work put in by others and us, I’d like to think it has made a positive impact. :)

That’s the long way of saying we found another Timber.

Photo by Matt Ricklefs

This one only about 18 inches long, coiled and enjoying the night. Actually, we moved some grasses to get a little better picture and by the twitchy, deliberate head jerk reaction it definitely seemed to be in hunting mode. Again, we didn’t want to disturb it too much so we got a few shots and moved on.

We looked around a little more and checked some of the rookeries, but no one was home. It may be an off year, it may not be. We’ve had those and it is a normal cycle for timbers, so time will tell this year what we see. That was it for the day and we headed home.


For a limited time HERPJOURNAL can get you a BONUS SNAKE, absolutely FREE!!!!

While we were driving home Jim yelled out, “SNAKE, SNAKE, LIVE SNAKE!” of course we were on a four lane highway and I can’t turn around, but luckily it was near a four way intersection and I was able to stop quick enough, pull over, back up just a little (safely-ish) and get Jim within range to run and make the grab. What a lucky grab it was. Not only were we (and her) fortunate to find it alive but it was also a very beautiful Western Fox Snake (Pantherophis vulpinus).

Photos by Matt Ricklefs

Photo by Jim Scharosch

She was about 28 inches long and had a high blotch count which added to her beauty. She also looked like she had recently shed so her colors, especially in the light of dusk, were very nice. The best thing though was she was obviously gravid. So not only did we save HER, but a new generation of snakes as well. NOICE MATES!

Since we did need to rescue her and since she was very pretty we did take a little time to get some shots, but didn’t take too long so she could get going again and settle in for the night. Jim found a nice, hopefully safe, small ravine away from the road that should serve her well for her upcoming egging. That may or may not be an official word in this sense, but I like it!

A great, long, day.

Happy Herpin’ Everyone.

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