Statewide. We have two varieties, or subspecies, of coachwhip
in Oklahoma. The western coachwhip, Coluber flagellum testaceus,
occurs primarily west of I-35 (Indian Meridian), but can be found
in some counties east of I-35, and the eastern coachwhip, C.
f. flagellum, which is found principally east of I-35. The coachwhips
earn their name from due to their long, slender, tapering bodies
and scalation pattern which looks like braided leather, similar
to a bull whip. The western coachwhip is highly variable in color,
ranging from dark brown to black anterior body, fading to lighter
brown posterior, to light pinkish overall in the panhandle. The
eastern coachwhip tends to be more uniform in color, still fading
from dark anterior to lighter posterior. Juveniles are highly patterned
and commonly confused with juvenile racers, but easily identifiable
by a translucent green or bronze patterned head, whereas racers
tend to have a black or brown patterned head.
Coachwhips have large forward-facing eyes giving them binocular
vision, which is crucial in locating their prey in tall grass. They
tend to prey on lizards, frogs, and snakes, but is opportunistic
and will raid a rodent nest, and even climb trees and overhangs
after a bird nest. When hunting, they usually travel swiftly through
grassy areas with their heads elevated 6-8 inches above the ground.
They are harmless, and are quick to retreat when threatened, but
are also quick to bite when harassed.