The Coachwhip (Masticophis flagellum) is a non-venomous colubrid snake, also referred to as the whip snake, endemic to the United States and the northern half of Mexico. The coachwhip is among the native snakes.
There are 7 subspecies and their scope extends from coast to coast throughout the southern USA, from California to Florida, including Illinois, Nevada, Oklahoma, southwestern Utah, southeastern North Carolina and South Carolina.
The species can also be found in the northern regions of Mexico in Baja California, Querétaro and Sinaloa in Addition to Turner Island and Tiburón Island of the Gulf of California.
Their preferred habitats are relatively open territories. Usually located in desert scrub, prairie lands, sand dunes, rocky hillsides and oak and pine woodlands.
Found along beaches shorelines and river estuaries just up to the pinyon and juniper woodlands in mountain flanks. From the summertime, these snakes happen in riverine and playa lake surroundings.
Some captive eastern coachwhips have lived around 16 decades, but little is understood about the many coachwhip subspecies lifespan in the wild.
The coachwhip is a rather thin-bodied snake with smooth scales a long and tapered tail, with small angular head and large eyes with round pupils. An adult coachwhip could reach over 8 feet in length, however the average is about 4 to 6 ft.
The colour varies a great deal depending on subspecies and range, but it mostly reflects their natural environment making sure a proper camouflage.
From the eastern parts of its range, it generally comes with a dark brown to black color with the head and neck disappearing gradually to light brown in the tail.
In western components, their color ranges from dark brown, tan, yellow to gray or even pinkish for its Red coachwhip also known as Red racer. Normally the belly is lighter colored in some cases with banding.
The snake’s similarity to this lashes of the 18th-century British coachman’s horsewhip debated is common name.
They’re active during the day from April until October, coachwhips are most commonly seen in hot weather. In actuality, while most snakes are inactive, the coachwhip is often observed through the summer season. In small mammal burrows or stones that the coachwhip takes refuge at nighttime and during weather.
They have good vision that is much better than most other snakes and are occasionally viewed with their heads elevated over the earth looking for prey or around the watch for potential predators.
Coachwhips are also good climbers, slithering quickly up trees or shrubs searching prey or escape a risk. The coachwhip will generally attempt to escape with its speed when feeling threatened.
But if cornered, they’ll spiral defensively, vibrating the tail in trying to mimic a rattlesnake, when handled they’ll fight and sting to protect themselves. These snakes possess needle-sharp teeth that produce lacerations when it snacks, instead of punctures like fangs on venomous snakes are doing.
The most bizarre myths about those snakes are that the coachwhip will actively chase people and whip them into death, that’s false.The hoop snake legend, in which a snake grabs its tail with its jaws and rolls itself such as a wheel following prey, perhaps describes coachwhip snakes.
You will find 7 coachwhip subspecies currently understood by scientists.
Sonoran coachwhip (M. f. cingulum) – All These snakes are located largely in Mexico southward to Oaxaca from the US occurs in southwestern New Mexico and subtropical into west-central Arizona.
Eastern coachwhip (M. f. flagellum) – Located from eastern Kansas to eastern Texas in the west and North Carolina into Florida in the east.
Baja California coachwhip (M. f. fuliginosus) – Found through most Baja California in Mexico, and in a small area of southern San Diego County in California.
Lined coachwhip, (M. f. lineatulus) – All These snakes have been found mostly in Mexico and intense south Arizona.
Red coachwhip or Crimson racer (M. f. piceus) – Found throughout southern California to northwestern Nevada and south through Nevada and much of Arizona.
San Joaquin coachwhip (M. f. ruddocki) – The San Joaquin Coachwhip, is is found in California, ranging from the Sacramento Valley southward into the San Joaquin Valley and westward into the inner South Coast Ranges.
Western coachwhip (M. f. testaceus) – Located throughout West and central Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas and Oklahoma and in west Mexico.
Do Coachwhip snakes eat snakes?
The coachwhip has rather keen eyesight making it an excellent hunter, they’ll actively hunt for potential prey.
Coachwhip snakes eat a wide array of prey such as small rodents, amphibians, lizards, birds and birds dinosaurs, insects or snakes and spiders including venomous snakes.
They’re extremely fast-moving, agile snakes, that could move at top speeds of around 4 mph very similar to other racers like the blue racer snake. They use their speed however that the caught absorbed living.
The coachwhip breeding season occurs typically in the spring, frequently in late April and May.
Coachwhips are oviparous snakes, along with the female lays the eggs in late spring and early summer. Piles of leaf litter, loose dirt is used by them, hollows abandoned burrows of animals and logs.
Females lay up to 24 eggs per clutch, although the average number of laid eggs is about 12. Following an incubation period of 6 to 12 weeks, hatchlings are born in August or even September.
They measure about 11 to 16 inches (28 to 40.5 cm ), also also appear different than the adult snakes, they have an overall tan coloration with little brownish crossbars down the duration of the human body.
The coachwhip snakes are considered from the IUCN as”Least Concern” species, also due to its extremely wide distribution and presumed substantial population in excess of 100,000 up to 1,000,000 individuals.
The several subspecies face no impending big threats, and their populations aren’t currently declining. Their habitat is falling due to development, in some areas.
Like San Joaquin valley in the central part of California, where the local subspecies that the San Joaquin Coachwhip is recorded as”Special Concern” due to disappearing habitat.
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