I met this snake on a cool October day, he was crossing a local road and was poking along. I was able to get the car stopped and me and my gear into position without spooking this normally skittish snake.
Masticophis flagellum or Coachwhip is normally a snake that will zoom off into cover if approached or threatened. They are one of the fastest snakes in the southern U.S. So, I count myself lucky to have been able to spend as much time with this fellow as I did.
I followed this snake while he navigated down a concrete support for an under the road culvert. He was being very methodical about investigating any opportunity of finding prey. Coachwhips get their names from the way their scales appear like the braided leather pattern seen on whips or crops used to motivate horses. They are long snakes and move so fast that people are many times startled by them.
Here, you can see narrow head and the circular, large pupils typical of this kind of Colubrid snake. Also take note of the slender neck behind the head. This is another character that helps identify these snakes. Coachwhips are known to travel with their heads held up off the ground, allowing them better opportunities to locate prey.
In the last image, you can see the forked tongue that Coachwhips use to pick up scent particle in their environment which helps them find prey. Coachwhips eat insects, lizards, snakes, rodents, birds, and birds eggs. They will climb trees and shrubs in pursuit of a meal. These snakes do not kill their prey with venom or by constriction, instead, they bite hard and pin the prey with loops of their body before swallowing them whole.