Sand Bullies and Prairie Mambas


First Bullie


Matt with Racer

Blue Racer

Glass Lizard

Juvie Blue

May 28th, 2005
Jim and Austin Scharosch,
Matt Ricklefs, Marty Whalin

Partly cloudy, steady wind;
temperatures in the low 70s

It was the perfect day for tin flipping.  Enough clouds to keep flattish metallic things from getting too hot for herps.  Enough sun to warm up the day.  And here we were, in a place with plenty of tin for the flipping.

Jim, Austin and Matt left Iowa at oh-dark hundred to arrive in Illinois sand prairie country by nine.  Marty and I had the luxury of a short sixty minute drive to meet them.

We stopped first at our 'usual spots'; abandoned homesteads strewn with corrugated roofing and other debris.  The first herp of the day was a Prairie Racerunner, the most common lizard in this sandy-soiled habitat.  Marty caught sight of a Western Slender Glass Lizard, a life lister for him.  At our second stop Matt chased a Racerunner right into an old can for an easy capture.  These Iowa guys have some tricky ways about them...

We moved on to place I hadn't worked before, where a fire had swept through recently, killing off a lot of young trees, multiflora rose and other brambles.  Jim turned up the first Bullsnake of the day under a section of corrugated roofing.  It was a female, about forty inches in length and opaque.  Marty was pretty stoked, as this was his first Bullsnake.

There was more sooty junk to turn but nothing further turned up, so we moved on to another area, with a couple abandoned trailers and plenty of junk scattered about.  Matt scored the next herp, an adult Blue Racer, opaque and a little on the thin side. As it turns out this was also a life lister for Marty, who was cleaning up on this trip. We took some pictures and I scared up another Glass Lizard nearby, which we managed to get hands on for examination and pictures.  I didn't get a good shot of this one unfortunately.

Moving on, we found a spot with junk on both sides of the road.  Working the east side first, Matt flipped another adult Blue Racer, about the same time I found a juvenile under some tin.  I headed over to Matt and we all took some photos of both.  Matt's adult was in great condition, close to four feet and showing a nice tint of blue.  I call them Prairie Mambas for fun, since that's the snake they remind me of.  Racers are definitely an overlooked and under-rated species.  They're not flashy, but they are beautiful, and a very successful species.


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