The Coachwhip, Masticophis Flagellum as it is scientifically known, belongs to the Colubridae family. The common name is a racer or red racer or whip snake. Their habitat commonly includes open areas with sandy soils as these snakes tend to live in burrows. Another habitat is open Pinehill forests, sandhill scrubs, and coastal dunes. The species is endemic to the United States and Mexico. They tend to have smooth scales, a small head and neck, large eyes, and round pupils. They have long and slender bodies and the color varies according to the regions. They generally are dark brown in color. Six subspecies have been recognized. The Coachwhip snake size ranges from 36-96 in (914-2438 mm). The physical appearance varies slightly among species, for instance, Eastern Coachwhip (Coluber Flagellum) tends to be small in size. The Coachwhip, Masticophis flagellum, mates between June and August, though the mating or breeding season varies with region too. After mating, the females lay about 4-24 eggs in nests in burrows of small mammals or animals. After the eggs hatch, the juvenile is not dependent on the adults. The diet of this snake includes lizards, insects, birds, and their eggs. Its prey also includes other reptiles and amphibians. They are highly opportunistic predators. This is the longest and fastest species found in North America. These species are quite gripping to know about so read on for more such Coachwhip snake facts! If you are interested, read about the Black Rat Snake and Smooth Green Snake.
What do they prey on?
Insects, birds, lizards, rodents
What do they eat?
Average litter size?
How much do they weigh?
1 lb (0.5 kg)
How long are they?
36-96 in (914-2438 mm)
How tall are they?
What do they look like?
Black and white
What are their main threats?
What is their conservation status?
Where you'll find them
Southern United States
Coachwhip Interesting Facts
What type of animal is a Coachwhip?
The Coachwhip (Masticophis flagellum) is a snake.
What class of animal does a Coachwhip belong to?
The Coachwhip belongs to the class of reptiles.
How many Coachwhips are there in the world?
There has been no specific number of Coachwhip snakes in the world recorded but it has been observed that this family accounts for about two-thirds of the world's snakes.
Where does a Coachwhip live?
A coachwhip tends to live in coastal areas and found throughout the Southern United States.
What is a Coachwhip's habitat?
The Coachwhip is found in open habitats with sandy soil. These snakes prefer to live in open pine forests, sandhill scrubs, coastal dunes, old fields, and prairies. These snakes were occasionally found in agricultural areas.
Who do Coachwhips live with?
Coachwhips are solitary species.
How long does a Coachwhip live?
Coachwhips tend to live for around 13 years in the wild and for about 20 years in captivity.
How do they reproduce?
Coachwhips are oviparous and iteroparous. The breeding season takes place between June and August. Males reach maturity at the age of one but they mate when they are three years old and females reach maturity at three years. Courting behaviors by snakes include flicking of the tongue. This is to assert dominance and to confirm or ensure copulation with the females. Females are polyandrous and mate with several males. Males tend to have territorial behavior during the breeding season. The gestation period lasts for around 77 days. The females lay for about 4-24 eggs in the nests in small burrows of animals. The eggs are oblong in shape and white in color with a granular surface. The young Coachwhip snakes are not dependent on the parent after they hatch.
What is their conservation status?
The conservation status of the Coachwhip is Least Concern.
Coachwhip Fun Facts
What do Coachwhips look like?
These snakes are thin-bodied with a small head and large eyes and round pupils. These snakes have smooth scales and braided patterns. There are variations in color but they are highly camouflaged to the native or natural environment. These snakes in general are dark brown on the anterior and dorsum and are pink or red on the midline and on the ventral side. The subspecies differ in color or physical appearance in general. For instance, the Eastern coachwhip (Coluber flagellum) has a darker anterior dorsal which is lighter in southern geographic areas or in the western coachwhip. The younger Coachwhip is different than the adult. The adults' body color varies according to the locations while the youngs or juveniles are generally tan or brown with white spots.
How cute are they?
Some consider certain species of Coachwhips cute. It will depend on whether you find snakes cute or scary!
How do they communicate?
These snakes tend to rely on visual, motor, and olfactory stimulations to communicate. Their sense of smell allows them to process the environment through chemical signals. When threatened, these snakes coil up and vibrate to scare the predator. These snakes can also climb trees and their speed allows them to flee the predator.
How big is a Coachwhip?
Coachwhips can be around 36-96 in (914-2438 mm) long and weigh about 1 lb (0.5 kg). The Eastern Coachwhip is one of the very long and thin snakes.
How fast can a Coachwhip move?
Coachwhips are very fast-moving snakes that can move at speed of about 4 mph (6.44 kph)
How much does a Coachwhip weigh?
Coachwhips weigh around 1 lb (0.5 kg). They are not very heavy snakes.
What are their male and female names of the species?
There are no specific names for the male and female of the species.
What would you call a baby Coachwhip?
There is no specific name for baby Coachwhips.
What do they eat?
This species is known to be highly opportunistic predators. It primarily feeds on insects, lizards, birds, and their eggs. It has also been observed that this snake prey on amphibians and reptiles. It also rarely consumes rodents and carrion. These species actively search for their prey. They are most active during midmornings and late afternoons. They forage and spot their prey by relying on the visual and olfactory senses. They can spot prey by the chemicals emitted by them. Being among the fastest snakes in North America, catching prey is not difficult for these species.
Are they poisonous?
Coachwhips are non-venomous snakes.
Would they make a good pet?
It has been observed that Coachwhips do not make such great pets. Although it is non-venomous, it is highly prone to biting. This snake is also difficult to tame. They are known to be one of the largest snakes and the fastest ones too as well as being diurnal in nature, that is, they are active during the day. These characteristics make it difficult to keep this snake as a pet, as they require large tanks.
Did you know...
The body of this species is similar to coachwhips used by horse buggy drivers in the 18th century, and this led to the coinage of the name. The common name of this species is a Whip snake.
Coachwhips tend to provide a great insight into speciation. It has been observed that some seasonal coachwhips isolate because of geological processes such as faulting that takes place in California and as a result, the subspecies evolved with distinct characteristics.
Coachwhips and humans
There is a very common myth that this snake can whip a person to death with its tail. This is not the truth. These species are non-venomous and cannot kill a human. This species is known to bite continuously to defend itself, but these bites are non-venomous. The Masticophis flagellum avoids direct contact with people and is not aggressive and does not chase humans. They only bite when they are intentionally molested.
Coachwhips and other snakes
Coachwhips are known to eat other snakes occasionally. They can eat rattlesnakes. Unlike others, the Coachwhips are non-poisonous.
North American racers are smaller compared to others and have white chin and throat, unlike Eastern Coachwhips that have a black head and neck and a tan body and tail.
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