Trip Details

Location: Jones, Linn and Buchanan counties, Iowa

Weather: High of 80 degrees, cloudy early, partly cloudy late, humid

Time: 11:30 p.m.

Herpers: Don Becker, Jim Scharosch

Account by: Jim Scharosch

Photos by: Jim Scharosch

Don and I have been checking on a timber rattlesnake den in Jones county this year. We have yet to see a timber there, but we decided to take another shot at it since the weather looked like it was going to cooperate. It is an unpredictable time of year for timbers. We had a couple of nights below freezing this past week and that can sometimes keep the snakes in the den, but we still thought it could be worth the trip. We got there and the weather still didn't feel "snakey". It was warm, but the sun wasn't shining and the rocks felt cold. Add to this that it was pretty windy on the bluff tops. To make a long story short, we saw a Common Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis), and that was it.

On the plus side, the snake was near the area we suspect to contain the timber den, so at least we know some snakes are overwintering in the spot we were checking.

On the way home, we saw numerous snakes dead on the road, and a few live ones. We stopped for a plains garter snake, and found out later that it was the first record for a plains garter in Jones County since 1976! That was kinda cool.

We decided to make a stop off at a local hibernaculum in hopes of ending the day on a better note. This is a spot I visit a lot, and is usually very good for young fox snakes and milk snakes. The spot didn't disappoint.

We turned up ten baby Fox Snakes (Pantherophis vulpinis) in less than an hour of looking. Here are pictures of nine of them, one got away.

We also found one small adult fox snake that was just under three feet long.

After we finished with the fox snake, I looked up the road and saw a Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina) crossing.

We turned a few more rocks, and I mentioned that I would really like to see one more milk snake this year. As if on cue, the next rock held this really nice two foot long Milk Snake (Lampropeltis triangulum).

The season is winding down for sure now as all of these animals were at the areas where they will be overwintering. Each post could be the final post of the season, so if so, see ya next year!

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