Trip Details

Location: Linn County, Iowa

Weather: 74 degrees. Generally overcast early with clearing through the day. Moderate wind.

Time: 8:00 a.m.

Herpers: Don Becker, Jim Scharosch & Matt Ricklefs

Account by: Matt Ricklefs

Photos by: Matt Ricklefs except where noted

The forecast called for a hot and sunny day so we got up and out early. As it turned out, the weather took a while to get close to as hot as they predicted, so it ended up being a very nice day to get out in the morning. Today's locations were sand prairies and we were anxious to see what we would find.

After some walking and checking some cover, we got our first prize of the day; and a great one. An Eastern Hognose Snake (Heterodon platirhinos).

Photo by Jim Scharosch

It was nicely coiled and we got some pictures and left it how it was. It was a younger one at about 16 inches. The first picture is a just flipped in situ shot.

I also mention that as just to the bottom below snake there is some old clover covering a small hole that Don noted. We also noted a large hole under the tin that she seemingly came out of since it was so fresh. That’s all a little more important a little later in our story.

As we checked some other cover we also found a few Garter Snakes and Brown Snakes, but did not take any pics today. We were talking about Box Turtles since they are in the area and not long after Don spotted a female Ornate Box Turtle (Terrapene ornata) digging a garage for herself. She was a typical adult female, and a nice addition to the day. She was not eager for pics so we got some quick as best we could and let her be.

It’s a pretty big area and by the time we walked around it had warmed up and so we checked some of the early cover and we were curious to see if the “Hoggie” was still there. Jim and I voted no and Don voted yes. Oddly, the large hole that we supposed it came out of since it was so fresh was NOT the hole it retreated to. When we flipped it was about two-thirds down the hole that the old clover had been covering. Funny. So it was kinda there and kinda not there. We considered ALL of us correct. I commented that it was Schroedinger's Hognose.

We moved to another site and did find a “blue-eyed” Racer (Coluber constrictor).

It was a sub-adult as you could still see some of the juvenile markings on its belly, but had turned a solid color as usual on top. It was about 17 inches long. Since it was getting ready for shedding we got some quick pics and let it be. That was it for the day. I do recommend not wearing shorts in a sand prairie as I have some pretty tore up legs now. Battle scars! Ha!

Observe and Conserve and as always, HAPPY HERPIN’

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