Trip Details

Location: Jackson County, Iowa

Weather: 70 degrees, no wind, clear sky

Time: 5:30 p.m.

Herpers: Laura and Jim Scharosch

Account by: Jim Scharosch

Photos by: Jim Scharosch except where noted

Photo by Laura Scharosch

Laura and I went up to the timber den we often visit in Jackson County to do some work a project we are doing there. The weather was nice so we hoped to see some snakes out and about. There are three timber dens at this site, and we started at the south den. We checked all the spots where the timbers like to hang out but didn't see anybody.

We moved on to the north den, and at a lower outcrop we spotted a medium sized Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) tucked in a crevice.

It was probably around two feet long.

We worked our way up to the den site, where Laura spotted a last year's baby timber in a crevice. It pulled in before I could get a photo. We moved on, shining the crevices with a flashlight, when Laura looked back and spotted another two foot long timber that we had both somehow missed. It was actually behind us in a large crevice, and was very easy to spot. Crazy how you can miss timbers hiding pretty much in plain sight.

We worked the rest of the top part of the den and some of the nearby outcrops without seeing any more timbers. We turned a few "milksnake rocks" and found this Common Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis).

It's funny how many of these I see close to home, so many I don't even pay attention to them. In northeastern Iowa they tend to be a bit more brownish in color than I am used to seeing so I usually tend to grab a photo or two. We were now near a timber rookery area, so we approached carefully and spotted a large female under the large rock atop the rook. I took a photo at a distance to disturb her as little as possible.

There was another timber on the back part of the rook, way back in a crevice.

That was all at the rookery, so we went back to look at the lower part of the north den which we had not yet checked. There was a two foot timber tucked deep in a crevice.

Here's Laura in front of the lower portion of the north den

We went over to the west den, which we just discovered this season. We checked some of the lower rocks and turned up a couple of Milksnakes (Lampropeltis triangulum), both deep in shed.

Photo by Laura Scharosch

We climbed the bluff to where we believe the den entrance to be, and as soon as we got up there I said, "Woah, big timber!"

Not only was it large, it was laying within a couple feet of the suspected den entrance. Not yet definitive proof this exact hole is the entrance, but we are getting close to being able to say that. Here are a couple of closer shots of the same snake from different angles.

Photo by Laura Scharosch

I would guess the snake at three and a half feet long. It never moved or rattled, and I don't even recall seeing it tounge flick the entire time we were taking photos, which was quite a while.

Needless to say it was a fun evening trip. Seeing seven timbers is awesome enough, but adding to our knowledge of the area really makes it worthwhile.

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