Trip Details

Location: Iowa

Weather: 73 degrees and sunny

Time: 6:30 p.m.

Herpers: Laura and Jim Scharosch

Account by: Jim Scharosch

Photos by: Jim Scharosch

Laura texted me during the day and asked if I wanted to go look for snakes after work. The weather has been been very hot for a couple of weeks, but the temps had mellowed out a bit today, so I thought it might be fun to get out for a bit. I wanted to try something more interesting than the normal spots right around home, so we took a chance and went to a known spot for Massasaugas in Iowa.

The plants were tall and we knew we wouldn't see much on the crawl in the fields. In some areas the plants were shoulder high. There are a few boards to flip here, and we got a couple of Eastern Garter Snakes (Thamnophis sirtalis) under one of them. I only grabbed up one for an in hand shot.

Another board turned up a couple of Red Belly Snakes (Storeria occipitomaculata)

We tired of walking in the tall grass, so we decided to walk the road side ditches. We saw a lot more snakes, but they were all very quick to get down into the deep grass in the ditch. We saw a number of garter and ribbon snakes but couldn't lay a hand on any of them. We saw a couple of ribbon snakes near a bridge and couldn't get pics of them either. We did see this Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta) that had just finished digging it's nest and was depositing eggs into the nest hole.

We hiked back to the truck and drove to another area that had a handful of boards to check. Most were ant infested and didn't hold anything. We got to the last board and I turned it and Laura said, "Holy shit, a sauga!". There sat a beautiful little Massasauga Rattlesnake (Sistrurus catenatus).

It was about twenty inches long. I hadn't seen one for a couple of years so it was pretty cool to get one this late in the season. It also turned a mostly lame herping trip into a memorable one.

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