All text copyright  Eitan Grunwald.  All photographs copyright  Eitan or Ron Grunwald  except photographs by others are copyright per photo credits.  All rights reserved.  Terms
MISSOURI
June 2011
 4 of 4
MISSOURI
June 2011
4 of 4
Ryan takes us up a hill where he’s seen Copperheads before.  “That’s where I saw one last time,” he says, pointing to a patch of bare rock, “right out there basking.”  Nothing this time, then suddenly, “There it is!” Ryan spots the snake hidden in the surrounding grass, and we crowd around to get a better look.  Eventually, the snake tires of us spectators, and slowly makes its way down a crevice to get some privacy. Ron finds another Worm Snake.  This is a new subspecies for him, with higher contrast than the dull ones we have back east.  The first Western he found was in shed, so it was hard to appreciate just how colorful they can be, but this one is bright and shiny.   Making our way back down the hill, Ryan spots a basking Ribbon Snake, the last and prettiest one of the day.    Ryan needs to leave, but before going, he directs us to another little glade where he hopes we’ll have better luck finding a really red Red Milk Snake. We say our goodbyes, then make the long hike to Ryan’s other site.   We get there in fading light and quickly find a Box Turtle, while Ron comes across a pair of bird eggs that are just lying there on the open ground. Mike flips a small rock that reveals a small snake, a juvenile syspilla.  It’s opaque, but we can imagine how red it will look when it sheds. We also flip a big black snake, so Mike decides to play ringmaster with the Racer, determined to get a one- handed shot. And finally we find a bright red syspilla!  I think even Ryan would approve of this one. After dinner, Mike drives back to Illinois.  Ron and I tally the results from today (counting chigger bites, not herps) and realize we’ve run out of zeros.  I soak in the bathtub, hoping to ease the pain; the thought of boiling myself brings me pleasure.   Wayne and Ryan had recommended additional glades for us to explore, and the next day we hit those sites, but apparently, so have other people.  Virtually every rock has been recently flipped, and with the hot and dry conditions, we’re pretty much skunked.   The fields of flowers are nice, though.   We do find some obligatory Ringnecks, a Rough Earth Snake, a Skink, plus multiple Tarantulas.       Our mini-highlight is a cute little snake completely unfamiliar to us, since there are no east coast representatives of this genus.        Decide to spend our last day herping in the shade, in hopes that a cooler and wetter habitat will be more productive.  It’s a lot more comfortable, but alas, not very herpy.  Nevertheless, it’s a successful day:  no chiggers!   Our trip ends as it began, with a Three-toed Box Turtle.  It also ends with an appreciation for Missouri herping, both the challenges and rewards.   I’m grateful to the herpers who shared their spots and gave so generously of their time, and provided us with such good company.  Many thanks to Wayne, Rachel, and Darrell, as well as Mike, Ryan and his dad, for helping us make the most out of this trip.
Western Slimy Salamander Plethodon albagula
 Mike Pingleton
Ground Skink Scincella lateralis
Lined Snake Tropidoclonion lineatum
Red Eft (terrestrial form of Red Spotted Newt) Notophthalmus viridescens