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Common name: Eastern Coachwhip
Generic name: Masticophis flagellum flagellum (Shaw)
Adult length: 42-60 inches;  Record - 102 in.                                                                                                             Complete range: North Carolina to south Florida. and west to Texas, Oklahoma, and se. Kansas.  It is supposedly absent from much of the Mississippi River Valley, and there is an isolated colony in south central Kentucky.
see RANGE MAP for range in Louisiana

All species of coachwhips are interesting.  They are long, fast, and can be very aggressive.  In Louisiana, generally speaking, they are absent from the southern third of the state and the Mississippi valley.  They prefer the Shortleaf Pine-Oak-Hickory Forest and Longleaf Pine Forests.  Although occuring in a variety of habitats, they seem to be most abundant in dry uplands, usually near cultivated areas.   They are hard to catch and are often seen on the roads in west Louisiana.

They feed primarily on rodents and small birds.  They have been found several feet up in brushy areas and even in trees. 

We lack sufficient data on captive reproduction, but wild caught females from the Spring of 1999 layed eggs in mid- to late-June.  One that Mike had layed 9 eggs on the 23rd of June.  These eggs are non-adherant and are covered with tiny granules that give them a rough appearance, almost as if they were covered by grains of sand.  The young hatch out looking quite different from the adults.  They are light with dark blotches. 

This is a very interesting species that is rarely kept in captivity.  This is in part due to the naturally aggressive nature of these snakes.  Mike has kept a trio of them in a large terrarium (5' long x 2.5'wide x 3' tall).   He describes feeding as being similar to a shark frenzy.  Once mice are offered to the snakes, you can hear the snakes' bodies slamming against the walls as they chase the mice, grab them, and start eating.  They are such aggressive feeders that they will go for more mice even when part of the first one is still sticking out of their mouths! 

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State Checklist | Herping in LA | Links | Authors | State Maps