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2024 Hoosier Herp Out Review

By Katie Kolcun

On a sunny Saturday on the 18th of May, the Hoosier Herp Society held its 21st annual Hoosier Herp Out in Hardin Ridge Recreation Area. Thirteen members gathered in the morning with our fearless leader Jim Horton joining us in the afternoon.

Attendees to the 2024 Hoosier Herp Out

With a high of 81 degrees, it was a great day for herping, hiking and fellowship! At our first site of the day we encountered box turtles, slimy salamanders, and ring necked snakes. Under another cover board, members found a worm snake and an eastern fence lizard near each other. Member Kimberly Scott caught the lizard with lightning-fast reflexes! After taking plenty of photos and admiring the animals for a bit, they were released back where we found them.

Eastern fence lizard found by Hoosier Herp Society members

A large gray rat snake also made an appearance on the way to the next site and exhibited a defensive behavior that involves kinking up sections of its body. It’s thought that this behavior mimics a stick or fallen tree branch to fool potential predators. Luckily, it didn’t fool us! After a quick photo op, member Bailey Russel moved the snake safely off the side of the road.

Hoosier herp members taking photos of a gray rat snake crossing the road

The next site revealed an eastern hognose snake found by member Rick Marrs. The snake showed us a great example of its characteristic ‘play dead’ behavior known as thanatosis. Other finds from this site included northern water snakes, more box turtles, ring necked snakes, a cricket frog, and a beautiful eastern milk snake.

Eastern hognose snake playing dead found by Indiana reptile enthusiasts

A pitch-in cookout for lunch is an annual Herp Out tradition. Members pitched in all manner of snacks, Roger Carter fired up the grill for burgers and hot dogs, and new member Kate Minnelli provided some delicious almond flour brownies.

2024 Hoosier Herp Out Review

After lunch, we headed to our final site for the day nicknamed ‘Poke Farm’. After trudging through thick weeds and a few feet of water, we were rewarded with the second eastern hognose snake of the day! Instead of playing dead, this individual tried to scare us off by flattening its head and hissing. Flipping more boards revealed 2 northern copperheads. Photos were taken from a respectful distance. After a few more ring necked snakes, box turtles, an eastern garter snake, and some very soggy boots, we decided to call it a day.

Herps weren’t the only exciting finds of the day! Other encounters included a twayblade orchid spotted by member Emily Stulik, and male and female black widow spiders resting under a log.

A few members camped overnight and found additional species after dark, including green frogs and a common musk turtle.

Musk turtle found by Hoosier herp society members

Thanks to everyone who came out and joined us, and we hope to see you again next year!

2024 Hoosier Herp Out Review


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