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The distribution of the Desert Striped Whipsnake runs south from central Washington into Oregon and eastern California, cuts across southern Idaho, all of Nevada and most of Utah and western Colorado, into Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. It became a new member of the list of snakes residing in Wyoming when in 2010 it was documented south of Little Mountain in Sweetwater County (personal communication, Zack Walker, WGFD). This peripheral species prefers the shrubland of pinion and juniper woodlands above riparian habitat as well as brushy basins and desert canyon bottoms.
This is a long, narrow snake with total lengths in the range of 4-5 feet. It has a large head and very large eyes. The dorsal surface has a wide, dark midline stripe and several narrow, alternating light and dark longitudinal stripes along the sides. The belly is white near the head, becoming yellow then grading to pink near the tail. The dorsal scales are smooth and the anal plate is divided.
Like other racers and coachwhips, these are fast and fierce snakes (Read: they like to bite!) that depend on their great speed to capture food and avoid predation. With their head held high, they actively hunt for lizards and small vertebrates such as mice and birds.
*Permission granted for use of three Desert Striped Whipnake images, © Deborah Ambrose.