Online Field Guide to The Reptiles and Amphibians of Arizona

SONORAN WHIPSNAKE (Coluber bilineatus) Arizona
Yavapai County, AZ

SONORAN WHIPSNAKE (Coluber bilineatus) Arizona
Cochise Co., AZ

 SONORAN WHIPSNAKE  Coluber bilineatus
DESCRIPTION: A long (up to 1,778 mm or 70″ in total length), slender snake with blue-gray to gray-green coloration on the neck grading to yellow-green at mid body and gray-brown toward the tail. There are two thin, white stripes on each side of the body extending from the neck to about mid-body before melting into the background color. On the mid-section a pair of light dots marks the anterior edge of each dorsal scale. The underside is white to cream grading to pale yellow under
the tail. The eyes are large and the pupils are round. The scales are smooth.
The lack of side stripes on the posterior portion of this snake’s body distinguishes it from the similar looking Striped Whipsnake which has side stripes running from neck to tail.

DISTRIBUTION: This snake is found in most of the sub-Mogollon Rim mountain ranges of south-central and southeastern Arizona at elevations ranging from 1,000′ to about 7,000′.

HABITAT: It inhabits a variety of biotic communities including Arizona Upland Sonoran Desertscrub, Semidesert Grassland, Interior Chaparral, Madrean Evergreen Woodland, and the lower reaches of Great Basin Conifer Woodland. This snake is usually found above the flats on mountain slopes and canyons, in foothills, along ridges, and on steep rocky bajadas.

BEHAVIOR: This very fast moving, alert, diurnal predator forges in the mid-morning sun, often hinting with its head elevated high off the ground. It is primarily a ground-dweller but it spends some time in trees and often flees into the high branches of trees when threatened. It occasionally sleeps in trees on warm, humid nights. It hibernates during the cold months of late fall and winter. When captured it does not hesitate to bite.

DIET: This snake actively forages for lizards, snakes, bats, mice, rats, other small mammals, birds, and amphibians.

REPRODUCTION: Mating takes place in spring and a clutch of up to 13 eggs is laid in summer.

By Thomas C. Brennan

Bartlett. 2000. Snakes of North America: Western
Gulf Publishing Co. Houston, TX

Brennan, T. C., and A. T. Holycross. 2006. A Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles in Arizona. Arizona Game and Fish Department. Phoenix, AZ

Brennan, T. C., and A. T. Holycross. 2005. A Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of Maricopa County. Arizona Game and Fish Department. Phoenix, AZ

Degenhardt, W. G., Painter, C. W., and Price, A. H.. 1996. Amphibians and Reptiles of New Mexico. University of New Mexico Press. Albuquerque.

Fowlie. 1965. The Snakes of Arizona. Azul Quinta Press, Fallbrook, California

Stebbins. 1985. Western Reptiles and Amphibians. Houghton Mifflin. New York,

Sonoran Whipsnake (Coluber bilineatus) Range Map Arizona


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