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Reptiles of Washington


Striped whipsnake
(Masticophis taeniatus)

 

What they look like

  • Striped whipsnakes are long, smooth, slender snakes that can reach 36 to 72 inches in length.
  • Their body’s upper side is black or brown with lateral white stripes along its length, and their underside is white or cream colored.

Where they live

  • Striped whipsnakes can be found in certain parts of western United States and northern Mexico.
  • Habitats include rocky canyons, grasslands, sagebrush deserts, pinyon-juniper woodlands, oak forests, and ponderosa pine forests.
  • Often live and feed near rocky outcrops, rodent burrows, and in trees and shrubs.

What they eat

  • Younger striped whipsnakes primarily feed on lizards.
  • Adults can also feed on snakes, small mammals, insects, small birds, and occasionally small venomous snakes.

Breeding

  • In June or July, females find an abandoned rodent burrow and lay 3 to 12 eggs, which will hatch after around 50 to 57 days.   

Cool Biology Facts

  • Striped whipsnakes look like a leather whip, hence their name.
  • If captured, striped whipsnakes will often act aggressively and bite. This is perhaps a reason for their name Masticophis, which means biting/chewing snake. 

Photo

Distribution Map

Threats

Although car collisions and habitat loss from expanding agriculture threaten striped whipsnakes, they are considered “least concern” due to their large stable population and widespread range.