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The Striped Whipsnakes, Desert and Central Texas by Richard Bartlett on 2020-02-24 08:40:00


Desert striped whipsnakles may vary geographically in color intensity but are always busily striped.


Whipsnakes including coachwhips and the closely allied racers are a snake group that is all too often completely ignored by hobbyists. Although as adults many of the racers and coachwhips can be of dark and uniform color, many of the whipsnakes are colorful at hatching and remain so throughout their their lives. For example letís take a look at the Striped Whipsnakes. The Central Texas subspecies, Masticophis taeniata girardi, ranges southward from Central Texas well into Mexico. In contrast the Desert subspecies, M. t. taeniata, ranges northwestward from western Texas and adjacent New Mexico to central Washington. Both subspecies are snakes of the thornscrub, shrubby western grasslands, rocky and scrubby deserts, and dry open forestlands.

Like all of the racers and whipsnakes, these two are oviparous and produce only a single clutch annually. Hatchlings measure about 15Ē; adults may attain a length of 5to 6 feet. Their slenderness and the speed with which they disappear between and behind desert shrubs often makes the adults seems smaller.

Of these 2, the Central Texas whipsnake is the darker, usually having only a single light ventrolateral stripe and light, elongate dorsolateral blotches on each side. The latter are most prominent anteriorly. Because it has numerous white stripes on each side the desert subspecies is much the lighter of the 2. Both have whitish chins, cream to yellowish bellies, and coral subcaudal scales. Hatchlings are much like the adults in color and pattern.

It seems probable that lizards are the primary prey of these whipsnakes, but they also eat insects, amphibians, birds, and small rodents.

When taken captive they are often nervous and should e provided with ample secure hiding areas. They soon quiet down but seem to always dislike being physically restrained.
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