There are two species of masticophis found in Texas: M. flagellum, which this page covers, and M. taeniatus, which will be covered on the "whipsnakes" page. Owing to the difficulty in capturing and photographing these animals, this may take a while.
There are two subspecies of M. flagellum in Texas, but the eastern coachwhip is not found in the range of this work.
Masticophis flagellum testaceus
The western coachwhip is found throughout the all of texas but the eastern 1/4.
These snakes are usually seen crossing the roads during the heat of the day. Rarely are they seen at night. There is great variation in their coloration - red, pink, gray, yellow or brown specimes can be found. Some have evident dorsal blotches, some do not.
They move fast. If you are hot on the trail of one and it is not sure if it can reach safety in time, it may turn on you and strike toward your face, throwing you off balance it while it continues its escape. They will readily bite. I have suffered more damages and indignities from trying to catch these snakes than from all other species combined
One day I was on my way from Del Rio to San Antonio for a meeting, wearing a suit and tie. Near Brackettville a large yellow coachwhip went across the road and my herping reflexes took over. I made a hard U-turn onto the opposite side of the road and halted in the grass, jumped out and went after the coachwhip. When it was about 6-8 feet from the fence I was nearly on it and it made a sudden reversal and turned on me. It struck over my left shoulder, then over my right shoulder, putting me off-balance. Then it struck directly at my face, causing me to fall on my butt. The snake then crawled under the fence and into the brush and I showed up at the meeting with grass stains.
My former brother-in-law was peeling off a DOR for a museum collection. Although it had been there long enough to adhese to the road surface and its entrails where squished out, it still managed to bite him.
Don Williams reported finding a pair mating on Juno Rd. during the day. When he approached to capture them, the male took off. The female went nowhere, being quite dead from being run over.
I have had a red coachwhip from the Comstock area which did well in captivity, taking rats from my hand and allowing itself to be handled, but as a rule they are not an easy snake to keep. They require hot temperatures during the day and room to roam.
This specimen was alive but recently hit by a vehicle on Hwy. 277, Val Verde County.
These specimens are from Coke County. My Thanks to Sharon Preece for the photographs. The snakes have taken up residence in her garage and seem to have acclimated well to her presence.