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A Big Bonus Rattlesnake

Jim Scharosch, a native of Iowa, decided to spend a few days herping Missouri in search of a Gram’s crayfish snake and an adult speckled kingsnake.  The first stop of his trip found him north of St. Louis looking for the crayfish snake with Ryan Thies.  Ryan and Jim did end up succeeding in photographing a rather ugly crayfish snake.  They also ended up finding a couple other nerodia species and red milk snake.  Unfortunately, I had to miss this outing due to work but the next day brought Jim further south in Missouri where we planned to spend the following two days searching for his speckled kingsnake.

 

 We had perfect weather, it was the perfect time of year, and we were searching areas that I had found many adult “specks” in years past, but as luck would have it we couldn’t turn up a thing.  The weather was getting hot so we decided to head for the swamps of southeast Missouri where we hoped to find some snakes out on the move.  Soon after entering a lowland swamp I hit the brakes, Jim jumped from the car, and after an impressive chase, and an equally impressive grab, Jim came up with a nice looking erythrogaster.  Here’s Jim with that snake.

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and a little closer

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Searching along a wooded hillside that I had found specks in the past didn’t get us our target species, but we did get away with a bonus.  Jim was walking up a hill to check out an old fallen tree when he noticed a big beautiful timber rattlesnake coiled above a stump hole and taking in the afternoon sunshine.

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Here’s Jim with that rattlesnake.

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After driving up a couple of cottonmouths, we decided to head back a bit further north before setting up camp at Sam A. Baker State Park.  That night we downed a few beers around the campfire and made plans to herp a large glade system the following day.

 

The next day was going about like the last, slow, but in the end I did finally flip a nice little juvenile speckled king.  We were glad to have found it, but it wasn’t the perfectly patterned adult that Jim had envisioned (and found smashed on the road the day before).  After finding the king and a few flat-headed snakes Jim had to hit the road in order to make it home at a reasonably hour so we bid farewell and made loose plans to give that adult speck another try next spring. 

 

Jim’s personal account and photos of his three days herping Missouri can be found by clicking on the following links:

 

http://www.herpjournal.com/2007/04_28_07/pages/04_28_07.html

 

http://www.herpjournal.com/2007/04_29_07/pages/04_29_07.html

 

http://www.herpjournal.com/2007/04_30_07/pages/04_30_07.html