Third Eye - Snake Road 2018  
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Tim Spuckler

Herping Snake Road (and the surrounding area) September 30 - October 4, 2018.

With October just around the corner, it was time once again to head down to Snake Road to explore Shawnee State Forest. The weather was hot, often in the low 90s. It was humid and mosquito-ridden - but there were cool things to be found. My 2018 trip started out much like my 2017 trip, with finding an Eastern Box Turtle crossing the street en route to Snake Road.
Eastern Box Turtle

Prior to hitting the road, I investigated a creek and found this elegant Longtail Salamander.
Longtail Salamander

And not far away from it was this Cave Salamander. The two can sometimes be hard to tell apart, but the "herringbone" pattern on the Longtail's tail is a good way to differentiate the two.
Cave Salamander

Eventually I made it to Snake Road, a 2-1/2 mile stretch of dirt and gravel that's closed to automobile traffic during the spring and fall to allow snakes to migrate to and from their dens.
Snake Road

The first snake of the trip was this Cottonmouth, which did not hesitate to illustrate how the serpent received its common name.

Bess Beetles were sometimes seen crossing the road as well and tending to their grubs under logs.
Bess Beetle

The snake that I wanted to see the most was a Red Milk Snake. I had only seen one in the wild before and as luck would have it, this one was crawling along the trail.
Red Milk Snake

In 2017 it was quite dry at this time of year in southern Illinois, but in 2018 Hurricane Florence brought much rain to the area, allowing many types on fungi to flourish, like this Turkeytail.

A Yellowbelly Water Snake, this particular type of water snake is often found a surprisingly far distance from water.
Yellowbelly Water Snake

Many types of butterflies were out, such as this Question Mark.
Question Mark

As with previous trips, Cottonmouths were the most frequently seen snake.

A view of the swamp that borders Snake Road.

I found a total of five Copperheads on the trip - this was the first one. Its heat-sensing pit is clearly visible between its eye and its nostril.

The bugs were so bad they were even biting this Green Frog.
Green Frog

A Cottonmouth doing what they often do, resting at the base of the limestone bluff that serves as a hibernation den.

Central Newts were encountered on a regular basis.
Central Newt

Rough Green Snakes were especially common on this trip, here's a young one that I came across.
Rough Green Snake

That night I went driving to see if there were any reptiles on the road.
Snake Road Levee

Although this dude appeared to have scales, he was not a reptile.

A late night Copperhead.

Click here to see Part 2