Common Name

Scientific Name


Photo by Unknown Photographer
Photo Courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

The coachwhip, Masticophis flagellum, occurs throughout the southern United States, from the Pacific coast to the Atlantic coast, as well as in much of Mexico. The race of the coachwhip that occurs in Utah, the red racer, is limited to the southwestern corner of the state. Coachwhips are able to tolerate extremely hot weather, and individuals are often seen about during the day. They prefer dry open terrain in desert, grassland, and agricultural areas. They are active from late spring to early fall, but take refuge in rodent burrows and other secluded areas during cold weather and become inactive.

Females lay a clutch of four to twenty eggs during early summer; eggs hatch in six to eleven weeks. Coachwhips eat lizards, small mammals, insects, birds, and snakes.

Coachwhips are large snakes, sometimes obtaining lengths in excess of 100 inches. In Utah, coachwhips are generally reddish in color.


  • Biotics Database. 2005. Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, NatureServe, and the network of Natural Heritage Programs and Conservation Data Centers.

  • Stebbins, R. C. 1985. A field guide to western reptiles and amphibians. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. 336 pp.