Masticophis flagellum (State Status: S3; vulnerable)


The Coachwhip is a diurnally active species of whipsnake found in the pine belt of south Mississippi. Individuals can be 7 feet long or longer, and have a dark head and anterior body section that fades to a light tan along the body towards the tail.  They are restricted to the more open pine savannas, especially around De Soto National Forest, and suffer from habitat loss. They are nonvenomous. Scales are smooth and belly is plain in adults. Like racers, juveniles are patterned more complexly and grow into adult morphology with age (see below photo). They are active hunters and persist on small mammals, frogs, lizards, insects, and even other snakes.

Adult female Coachwhip, Harrison Co. (MS)

Identifying Traits

  • Long, fast, slender snake
  • Dark head and anterior, gradual lightening towards posterior
  • “Braided cord” whip-like appearance near tail

Subspecies Present:

Eastern Coachwhip (Masticophis flagellum flagellum)


Pine savannas, open sandy-soiled forests



Agile and quick, seen crossing roads, trails, may climb, active during the day


Various insects, frogs, lizards, small mammals, other snakes

Up-close with a male Coachwhip where anterior and posterior color differences are evident, Harrison Co. (MS)
Juvenile Coachwhip found in sandhill habitat, Santa Rosa Co. (FL)
Adult male, close to 6 feet in length, Harrison Co. (MS)
Up-close of the head of a juvenile, Santa Rosa Co. (FL)