Plants and Animals

Species of Concern: Dusty hognose snake

Common Name: Dusty hognose snake

Scientific Name: Heterodon gloydi

Range: Extreme southeastern Missouri

Classification: Critically imperiled

To learn more about endangered species: see links listed below

Missouri once was home to three species of hognose snake. The most common, the eastern hognose (H. platirhinos) still is found statewide. The plains hognose, (H. nasicus) inhabited northwestern Missouri, but it now is classified as extirpated, not having been seen in Missouri since 1961. The dusty hognose also was long thought to be extirpated, with a last sighting in 1961. Then, in 2004, one turned up in the species’ old haunts—the increasingly rare sand prairie habitat of southeastern Missouri. Four more sightings have been verified since then. The dusty hognose has a more sharply upturned nose than the eastern. Also, the underside of the tail of both the dusty and plains species behind the vent is solid black, whereas the tip of eastern’s tail is yellow underneath. If you see what you believe is one of the uncommon hognose species, please take photos of the head and tail before releasing the snake and contacting the nearest Conservation Department office.

Spring Orchids in Bloom

Look for these floral jewels to dazzle the eye.

A June ramble can reward you with floral delights. More than a dozen native orchids bloom this month, from the showy purple fringeless to the delicate ragged orchid. Some, like the grass pink, are found only in a handful of sites. Orchids rarely survive transplantation and should be left in their natural habitats. Missouri Orchids ($5 plus shipping and sales tax) has color photos and descriptions of 34 orchids. To order a copy, call toll-free (877) 521-8632 or visit online.

Quail, Turkeys Raising Broods

June can make or break ground-nesters.

June is when you are most likely to see a wild turkey poult or a bobwhite quail chick. Both species nest on the ground, hatching their broods mainly in May and June. Weather in the next two months will be critical to rebuilding populations that have suffered from bad weather the past few years. Poults and chicks need enough rain to encourage plant and insect growth, but not so much moisture that young birds drown. Similarly, they need warm temperatures, but unseasonably hot, dry weather reduces their chances of survival. These factors, along with quality cover and bare soil for dusting, spell quail and turkey success. Predators take some birds each year, but not enough to stop them from multiplying with favorable conditions.