There is hope!


On April 24th, Christopher E. Smith and I found a lone Box Turtle on a site where they had not been found in a while, and I was starting to think they may be extirpated. Yesterday, May 4th, I was walking the site and found two more turtles, a male and a female. While I was comparing the sexual characteristics of the two, they began to copulate. Today, while I was out, I found another male, and two more females. If you compare the markings on the image below, you can see that each turtle is...

The Lone Survivor?


Christopher E. Smith and I got back to my house last night after being in Kansas for a few days. I took him out to the sand ridge to show him the progress that is being made, and afterwards, decided to swing by another sand prairie to look for Tiger Beetles, and Fragile Prickly Pear Cactus. In 2012, I had found five Ornate Box Turtles on the property, gathered around a small depression filled with water. Soon after that, Jim Scharosch started a cover board survey on the site, and in the...

It's always a good time to go herping... even if it's about to rain!


My son and I ran out to walk a small prairie just before a storm rolled in. We were hoping to walk up a Bullsnake, but instead, came across this large Eastern Hognose Snake. The rain started immediately after I snapped the picture of her on the ground. We watched her for a minute or two, and she eventually moved to some near by grass and coiled up under it. We walked around the other mounds to see what else might have been out, and then circled back to see if she was still under the grass. She...

Signs of Snakes


If you have a good prairie around you, with lots of Pocket Gopher mounds, Fall is a good time of year to check them out for snake activity. If you find a location with lots of activity, you may find snakes still out on warm days. If not, watch them in the Spring for snakes emerging from their Winter slumber.

Nailed it!


A few years back, I don't recall exactly how many, a co-worker of Jim Scharosch ran over a snake in his yard, and brought it to Jim at work to ask what it was. If I recall the story from Jim correctly, he initially said that it was a Brown Snake, but when his co-worker turned away, the bright red belly of the snake turned to Jim and he knew it was actually a Redbelly Snake. They were not known to occur in Linn County, so we got a bit excited about it. Myself, Jim, and Matt Ricklefs searched...

At least I had my cell phone...


There is a spot in Benton County, Iowa, that myself and my friend Jim Scharosch both flip rocks at from time to time. For a while, we didn't know that the other worked the spot. All I would ever find there was Common Garter Snakes (Thamnophis sirtalis), but the spot was near a rock hunting location, so I stopped by when in the area to see if anything new popped up. After Jim and I realized we both worked the spot, he told me that he found Milk Snakes (Lampropeltis triangulum) and Racers...

Merping with the Orianne Society


Last week, myself and others involved with HerpMapper, headed down to Georgia to meet with The Orianne Society to discuss how we could work together on citizen science projects. Given that the Midwest is currently cold, and has snow on the ground, we had to take advantage of the warm weather in Georgia to do some merping (a term coined during this trip by the wise man, Mike Pingleton, to refer to mapping herpetofauna). We spent the whole day on Wednesday driving. As we neared our destination...

The little agate that couldn't


One of the things I enjoy about rocks is the story they tell. My favorite thing to collect are agates due to their looks, and the way they were formed. I went out to a local spot yesterday to get one last hunt in before the cold weather sets in too much, and I found one nice looking agate. It was whole, but the shape and texture were right, and I could see some chipped areas showing the white chalcedony that is in the "coldwater" agates found on the site. I got home and clamped the rock in the...

The Tiger Salamanders are back!


Larval Tiger Salamanders (Ambystoma tigrinum) used to be a common site for me. They could regularly be seen walking around the bottom of the ponds. In 2008, the Cedar River overflowed out of it's banks higher than it had ever done before. The flood waters didn't quite make it to my favorite pond, but the pond itself also flooded, and spilled out into the river. The stream of water pouring out was enough for little fish to swim up, and make their way in to the pond. After the flood waters...

Tarantulas are Marching North


I was doing some herpetology work with a friend in the Missouri Dept. of Conservation. We were flipping rocks in an area, and finding a bunch of Tarantulas. We find them all the time, and didn't think much of it. On the way home, my friend finally yelled "CRAP!", and when I asked him why, he said Tarantulas had never been found north of the Missouri River before. We checked the Missouri Dept. of Conservation website, which confirmed that the Missouri River was believed to be a barrier. The...