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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.


  • 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. 


Distribution Map


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.