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Masticophis flagellum (SHAW, 1802)

IUCN Red List - Masticophis flagellum - Least Concern, LC

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Colubrinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
SubspeciesMasticophis flagellum cingulum LOWE & WOODIN 1954
Masticophis flagellum flagellum (SHAW 1802)
Masticophis flagellum lineatulus SMITH 1941
Masticophis flagellum piceus (COPE 1892)
Masticophis flagellum ruddocki BRATTSTROM & WARREN 1953
Masticophis flagellum testaceus (SAY 1823) 
Common NamesE: Coachwhip
flagellum: Eastern Coachwhip
cingulum: Sonoran Coachwhip
lineatulus: Lined Coachwhip
piceus: Red Coachwhip
ruddocki: San Joaquin Coachwhip
testaceus: Western Coachwhip
G: Kutscherpeitschen-Natter
S: Chirrionera 
SynonymColuber Flagellum SHAW 1802: 475
Coluber americanus GRAVENHORST 1807
Psammophis flavigularis HALLOWELL 1852: 178
Herpetodryas flagelliformis — DUMÉRIL & BIBRON 1854: 210
Bascanium flagelliforme bicinctum YARROW 1883
Coluber constrictor var. flagelliformis — GARMAN 1884: 42
Zamenis flagelliformis — BOULENGER 1893: 389
Bascanion flagellum frenatum STEJNEGER 1893: 208
Bascanion flagellum — LOENNBERG 1894
Bascanion flagellum frenatum — VAN DENBURGH 1895: 147
Zamenis flagellum var. frenatum — MOCQUARD 1899: 323
Bascanion flagellum frenatum — STEJNEGER 1902: 155
Bascanian constrictor frenatum — BRYANT 1916
Coluber flagellum flagellum — BURT 1935
Coluber flagellum flavi-gularis — BURT 1935
Masticophis flagellum frenatum — TAYLOR 1938: 490
Coluber flagellum flavigularis — FUGLER 1956
Masticophis flagellum — STEBBINS 1985: 181
Masticophis flagellum flagellum — CONANT & COLLINS 1991: 186
Masticophis flagellum — LINER 1994
Coluber flagellum — UTIGER et al. 2005 (by implication)
Coluber flagellum — CROTHER et al. 2012
Masticophis flagellum — WALLACH et al. 2014: 418
Masticophis flagellum — O’CONNELL et al. 2017
Masticophis flagellum — MYERS et al. 2017

Masticophis flagellum flagellum (SHAW 1802)
Coluber Flagellum SHAW 1802: 475
Coluber flagellum flagellum — ALLEN 1932
Masticophis flagellum flagellum — CROTHER 2000: 65
Masticophis flagellum flagellum — TENNANT & BARTLETT 2000: 313
Masticophis flagellum flagellum — COLLINS & TAGGART 2009
Coluber flagellum flagellum — GUYER et al. 2018

Masticophis flagellum cingulum (LOWE & WOODIN 1954)
Masticophis flagellum cingulum LOWE & WOODIN 1954: 247
Masticophis flagellum cingulum — CROTHER 2000: 65
Coluber flagellum cingulum — LINER 2007
Masticophis flagellum cingulum — COLLINS & TAGGART 2009
Coluber flagellum cingulum — CROTHER et al. 2012

Masticophis flagellum lineatulus SMITH 1941
Masticophis flagellum lineatulus SMITH 1941: 394
Masticophis flagellum lineatulus — SMITH & TAYLOR 1945: 95
Masticophis lineatulus lineatulus — FUGLER & DIXON 1961
Masticophis flagellum lineatulus — WILLIAMS & WILSON 1965
Masticophis flagellum lineatulus — WEBB 1984
Masticophis flagellum lineatulus — TANNER 1985: 636
Masticophis flagellum lineatulus — CROTHER 2000: 65
Coluber flagellum lineatulus — LINER 2007
Masticophis flagellum lineatulus — COLLINS & TAGGART 2009
Coluber flagellum lineatulus — CROTHER et al. 2012

Masticophis flagellum piceus (COPE 1892)
Bascanion piceum COPE 1892: 625
Bascanion flagellum frenatum STEJNEGER 1893
Bascanion piceum — VAN DENBURGH 1896
Coluber flagellum piceus — VAN DENBURGH & SLEVIN 1921
Masticophis flagellum piceus — TANNER 1927: 57
Masticophis piceus — ORTENBURGER 1928
Masticophis piceus — KLAUBER 1931
Masticophis piceus — TAYLOR 1938: 490
Coluber piceus — DUNN 1940
Masticophis flagellum piceus — SMITH 1941: 397
Coluber flagellum piceus — KLAUBER 1942: 88
Masticophis flagellum piceus — CLIFF 1954
Masticophis flagellum piceus — ZWEIFEL & NORRIS 1955
Masticophis flagellum piceus — HARDY 1969: 183
Masticophis flagellum piceus — MEHRTENS 1987: 143
Masticophis flagellum piceus — CROTHER 2000: 66
Coluber flagellum piceus — LINER 2007
Masticophis flagellum piceus — COLLINS & TAGGART 2009
Coluber flagellum piceus — CROTHER et al. 2012
Masticophis piceus — O’CONNELL & SMITH 2018

Masticophis flagellum ruddocki BRATTSTROM & WARREN 1953
Masticophis flagellum ruddocki BRATTSTROM & WARREN 1953
Masticophis flagellum ruddocki — CROTHER 2000: 66
Masticophis flagellum ruddocki — COLLINS & TAGGART 2009
Coluber flagellum ruddocki — CROTHER et al. 2012
Masticophis flagellum ruddocki — THOMSON et al. 2016

Masticophis flagellum testaceus (SAY 1823)
Coluber testaceus SAY 1823: 48
Coluber constrictor var. testaceus — GARMAN 1884: 43
Bascanium flagelliforme testaceum — COPE 1886: 284
Coluber testaceus — GARMAN 1887: 127
Bascanicum flagelliforme testaceum — COPE 1893: 387
Masticophis flngellum testaceus — SMITH 1944
Coluber flagellum testaceus — JAMESON & FLURY 1949
Masticophis flagellum testaceus — SHANNON & SMITH 1949
Masticophis flagellum testaceus — STEBBINS 1985: 182
Masticophis flagellum testaceus — MEHRTENS 1987: 144
Masticophis flagellum testaceus — CONANT & COLLINS 1991: 187
Masticophis flagellum testaceus — CROTHER 2000: 66
Masticophis flagellum testaceus — TENNANT & BARTLETT 2000: 315
Coluber flagellum testaceus — LINER 2007
Masticophis flagellum testaceus — COLLINS & TAGGART 2009
Coluber flagellum testaceus — CROTHER et al. 2012 
DistributionUSA (California ?, S Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, SW Utah ?, SE Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Texas, SW Nebraska, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, SE North Carolina),
Mexico (Baja California, Sonora, Chihuahua, NW Sinaloa, Durango, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, Zacatecas, San Luis Potosi, Tamaulipas, Aguascalientes, Jalisco, Hidalgo, Guanajuato, Veracruz)

cingulum: Mexico (Sonora), USA (S Arizona); Type locality, Moctezuma, Sonora, Mexico, ca. 2000 ft.

flagellum: USA (E Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana). Type locality: see comment; restricted to Charleston, South Carolina (Schmidt, 1953).

lineatulus: Mexico (Chihuahua, Durango, Coahuila, Zacatecas); Type locality: 11 mi south of San Buenaventura, Chihuahua, Mexico.

piceus: USA (Nevada, S California, Arizona, S Utah). Type locality: Camp Grant (= Fort Grant), Graham County, Arizona.

ruddocki: USA (California: San Joaquin Valley); type locality: 1/4 mile south of ridge at Wheeler Ridge and 1.5 miles west of US highway 99, Kern County, California.

testaceus: USA (Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma); Mexico (Tamaulipas, San Luis Potosi, NE Sonora, Coahuila, Nuevo León, Chihuahua) (HR 33: 68); Type locality: headwaters of Arkansas River near the Rocky Mountains =junction of Turkey Creek with the Arkansas River, 12 mi W Pueblo, Pueblo County, Colorado.  
TypesHolotype: nondesignated (according to WILSON 1973)
Holotype: USNM 7891, skin of adult female (?) , collected by E. Palmer, no date [piceus]
Holotype: USNM 105292, adult female, collected by H. M. Smith, 22 October 1938 [lineatulus]
Holotype: CAS 91204, originally UCLA 6108, also reported to be in MVZ, adult male, collected by J. W. Warren, 12 April 1953; confirmed to be in CAS by L. Scheinberg, pers. comm, 13 Feb 2019 [ruddocki]
Holotype: UAZ (University of Arizona) 672, adult male, collected by A. W. Ruff, summer 1951 [cingulum]
Holotype: lost, fide WILSON 1973 [testaceus]
Syntypes: (2) 5387-88, frontiers of Texas to Creek Territory; [Psammophis flavigularis]
Holotype: lost, was USNM 11814 [Bascanium flagelliforme bicinctum]
Holotype: USNM 16340 [Bascanion flagellum frenatum] 
DiagnosisDEFINITION. Masticophis flagellum is a whipsnake with 17 dorsal scale rows on the anterior portion of the body, 8 supralabials, a juvenile dorsal pattern consisting of narrow or wide crossbands on the neck, and a variable adult pattern that never consists of longitudinal pale stripes, irregularly scattered dark lines, or dark spots at the bases of the dorsal scales. (Wilson 1973)

DEFINITION (flagellum). A subspecies with a dark to very dark brown anterior dorsal coloration grading from tan to dark brown posteriorly, or if dorsum is pale tan (as in certain disjunct populations in Florida and Georgia) then narrow dark cross- bands are present on the neck and juvenile markings characteristic of the flagellum group are present on the head. (Wilson 1973)

DEFINITION (cingulum). A subspecies with a highly variable color pattern, the dorsal coloration ranging from a series of long reddish brown bands separated by shorter, paired light bands to uniformly reddish brown or black. (Wilson 1973)

Diagnosis (lineatulus). Scales in 17 rows, posteriorly 12 or 13; ventrals 190 to 198, caudals 99 to 110; posterior portion of belly and subcaudal surface red or marked with red (except in juveniles), even in long-preserved specimens (red not fading greatly); each dorsal scale with a longitudinal dark line or a posterior dark spot; head scales not light edged in young, no light loreal stripe (center may be light); young with cross bands 2 or 3 scales long, extending laterally to ends of ventrals, disappearing on middle of body. Description of holotype.-Rostral rather prominent, strongly pointed posteriorly, as high as wide, portion visible from above as long as internasals; latter three-fourths length of internasals; frontal twice as broad anteriorly as between middle of orbits and posteriorly, about as long as its distance from tip of snout, very slightly shorter than frontal; nasal completely divided, anterior section a little larger and higher than posterior; loreal a little longer than high, in contact with two labials and lower preocular; two preoculars, upper in contact with frontal, lower much smaller and wedged between third and fourth supralabials; two postoculars, upper a little the larger; two irregular rows of temporals; an anterior temporal wedged between fifth and seventh labials, above sixth (which is small); eight supralabials, fourth and fifth entering orbit, fifth in contact with a temporal, seventh and eighth larger than others; infralabials 10-11, four in contact with anterior chin shields, two with posterior, fifth much the largest; anterior chin shields shorter, and a little broader, than posterior. Dorsal scales smooth, with double apical pits, in 17-17-12 rows; ventrals 197; anal divided; tail incomplete. Total length 1,481 mm, tail 336 mm (plus a few mm). (Smith 1941: 394)

Coloration (lineatulus). Head light yellowish brown, darker toward posterior sutures; sides of head light yellowish brown, with a lighter area in the preocular, loreal, nasal and rostral; a dark, rounded spot in center of nasal; supralabials white (cream) below a line about even with posterolateral border of seventh labial and middle of subocular labials. Dorsal ground color light yellowish brown, becoming more reddish toward middle of body, posteriorly mostly salmon red; all anterior dorsal scales with a central, longitudinal black streak, which becomes more spot-like on scales in middle of body, barely indicated on posterior scales; as the black spots become less distinct, the red areas become more distinct, the posterior scales being mostly red (with a little black near tip), with a white (cream) base; dorsal surface of the tail is even more strongly marked with salmon red. Posterior edge of mental and broad areas near the sutures between the infralabials and chin shields, black-marked; a double row of black spots beginning with anterior ventral scales; posteriorly these spots becoming mixed with red and soon mostly red and very little black; anterior ground color of belly yellow, this color extending onto lower dorsal scale rows; toward middle of belly the color is largely replaced by salmon red, and posteriorly the belly is entirely red, with the double row of black spots faintly indicated; ventral surface of tail mostly red, the bases of the scales lighter (cream). (Smith 1941: 394)

Variation (lineatulus). The variation in scutellation is given in Table 1. In coloration the adult and subadult paratypes agree with the holotype, except that those long preserved have lost much of the original color. Without a single exception, however, every adult shows the typical salmon red color at least on the subcaudal surface. Two very young specimens are from "Guanajuato" and "Mexico," both collected by Dugès and therefore probably from the vicinity of the city of Guanajuato. In these the dorsal head scales are not light-margined; sides of head with numerous vertical light marks, one on frontal; a light spot in loreal (not a stripe) and another on posterior section of nasal. Anterior part of body darker than posterior, and with narrow light cross bands covering considerably less than one scale length, placed at intervals of two or three scale lengths; these light cross bands extend to ventrals, somewhat irregular middorsally; tail, and middle and posterior part of body unmarked, becoming lighter posteriorly. (Smith 1941: 394)

DEFINITION (piceus). A subspecies with two color phases, one black and the other red. The former is completely black dorsally and salmon pink to red posteroventrally. The other phase is pink to red with crossbands on the neck that range in color from that of the general ground color (in which case the anterior and posterior edges are outlined with darker pigment) to black. (Wilson 1973)

DEFINITION (ruddocki). A subspecies with a light yellow to olive yellow dorsum with neck bands obsolete or absent. (Wilson 1973)

DEFINITION (testaceus). A subspecies with a light tan or light brown to pinkish-red dorsum, with or without short darker cross- bands on the neck or long crossbands on the anterior portion of the body, and a double row of dark spots on the otherwise cream belly. (Wilson 1973) 
CommentSynonymy: Masticophis f. fuliginosus is now considered as a full species according to GRISMER (1994). Previously it had been synonymized with M. f. piceus. C. flagellum is non-monophyletic with respect to M. bilineatus and other populations of Coluber (Masticophis) (O’Connell et al. 2017).

Subspecies: ruddocki is a consistely light yellow racer lacking the dark head and neck bands of the red forms of M. f. piceus.

Distribution: Not in Querétaro fide Tepos-Ramírez et al. (2023).

Phylogenetics: several clades within M. flagellum are paraphyletic, e.g. M. f. cingulum with M. fuliginosus (O’Connell et al. 2018).

Type locality: "Carolina and Virginia" (in error, the species does not occur in Virginia as currently defined).

Key: Smith 1941 has a key to the Mexican species of Masticophis. 
EtymologyThe specific name flagellum is the diminutive of the Latin word flagrum, meaning "whip or lash," also in reference to the color pattern of the tail. 
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