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What is a Coachwhip Snake (Masticophis flagellum)

What is a Coachwhip Snake

What is a Coachwhip Masticophis Flagellum Cingulum

Coachwhip Overview

The Coachwhip is a thin and long snake that can be found slithering along either coast of the United States and is thankfully a nonvenomous snake.

The reason I say thankfully, besides the obvious of not wanting to worry about another venomous snake bite, is because these snakes are very fast compared to other snakes found in the United States.

Its speed has led to rumors and myths that they will chase down people in the area although this is likely false as they are probably trying to run away from humans and happen to flee in the same direction as the person running.


  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Reptilia
  • Order: Squamata
  • Suborder: Serpentes
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Genus: Masticophis
  • Species: M. flagellum

Subspecies of the Masticophis flagellum

Six subspecies of Masticophis flagellum are recognized as being valid, including the nominotypical subspecies.

  • Masticophis flagellum cingulum – Sonoran coachwhip
  • Masticophis flagellum flagellum – eastern coachwhip
  • Masticophis flagellum lineatulus – lined coachwhip
  • Masticophis flagellum piceus – red coachwhip, red racer
  • Masticophis flagellum ruddocki – San Joaquin coachwhip
  • Masticophis flagellum testaceus – western coachwhip

Size and Body Description

Coachwhips are thin snakes with small heads and can come in a variety of different colors depending on which region you find them in, but for the most part will have a natural camouflage to match the surrounding environment.

Some colors you can expect to see are light or dark brown, black, tan, and even pink or red if you live in Texas.

As you get closer to the tail of the snake, the scales start to become smaller and look almost braided, much like a whip which is where their names come from.


The Coachwhip various in size depending on which subspecies you are looking at. Most Coachwhips will range from 50 inches to around 72 inches in length.

There have been recordings of Coachwhips reaching 100 inches but that is an extremely rare occurrence 


Coachwhips will eat just about any small animal it can catch in its respective region including birds, rodents, other snakes, frogs, and even bird eggs


Coachwhips reproductive periods range depending on which subspecies is around you but in general, they start breeding in spring or summer and then lay eggs in the summer and hatch late summer to early fall.

Coachwhip Range

Coachwhips can be found on both the east and west coast of the United States rarely venturing into the mid west because they prefer hot or dry climates.


As of writing this, there are no protections for Coachwhips.

References Used

  • Wikipedia
  • Florida Museum

What is a Coachwhip Snake