• Lower Cliff Dwelling

    Tonto

    National Monument Arizona

Coachwhip

coachwhip snake hiding in a tree

Coachwhip

NPS Photo

Coachwhip
Masticophis flagellum

Body length: 36 - 102"
Diet: Small mammals, birds, lizards, snakes, and insects

Coachwhips are fast, day-active snakes. They are rarely encountered at Tonto National Monument, but are often seen at lower elevations, closer to Roosevelt Lake. They are one of Arizona's fastest snakes, officially clocked at 3.6 miles per hour (although they seem much faster).

An unusual feature of this snake is that it may be completely black, completely red, completely brown, or some combination of these three colors. In many areas there appears to be no rhyme or reason to this coloring, and black, brown, and red snakes may live side-by-side. Thus "black racers", "red racers" (as they are sometimes called), and coachwhips are really just different color types of the same snake.

Did You Know?

crested saguaro

Tonto National Monument is home to a crested saguaro. Botanists disagree as to why some saguaros grow in this unusual form. Some speculate that it is a genetic mutation. Others say it is the result of lightning or freeze damage. About one in 150,000 saguaros develop this unusual growth.