Kentucky Snake Identification
Kentucky Snake Identification

Eastern Coachwhip (Masticophis flagellum)

Eastern Coachwhip (Masticophis flagellum)

Eastern Coachwhip (Masticophis flagellum)
Eastern Coachwhip (Masticophis flagellum)

Geographic Location Information for the Eastern Coachwhip (Masticophis flagellum)

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Eastern Coachwhips are a long and skinny snake, with big eyes and large head. These snakes have black around the head, neck and upper third of the body and tan on the remaining posterior of the body. Their tail resembles a braided whip (hence the common name “Coachwhip”).  Eastern Coachwhips have smooth scales and a divided anal plate.


The typical size of an adult Eastern Coachwhip ranges from 4 to 8 feet.


Eastern Coachwhips have been collected from two areas in southcentral Kentucky. It is likely that these snakes were released captives.  Throughout their range in the Southeast U.S., Eastern Coachwhips are found in old fields, upland forests, longleaf pine stands, and other areas with sandy soils. 

Natural History

Eastern Coachwhips mate in April and May and lay eggs in June or July. Similar to North American Racers, eggs are covered with salt-like granules. Eastern Coachwhips are active foragers. They feed on small mammals, lizards, birds and other snakes. They are active during the daytime, often during the warmest part of the day. These are fast moving snakes relying on their speed to escape predators such as birds of prey and large mammals. If cornered, Coachwhips will vibrate their tail, open their mouth and strike repeatedly. 


It is likely that Eastern Coachwhips never had established populations in Kentucky. The records for this species are either erroneous or represent escaped captives (probably from roadside snake shows).