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Matiscophis flagellum
Nonvenomous Status Uncommon in Katy and Cypress Texas Description/Identification A long skinny snake with round pupils that is highly variable in color.  Most of the individuals I have seen in the Katy area are intergradations of the Eastern Coachwhip (Matiscophis flagellum flagellum) and the Western Coachwhip (Matiscophis flagellum testaceus).  These typically have a bright red head like the Western Coachwhip but a black body that fades to tan towards the tail like the Eastern Coachwhip.  Coachwhips in my opinion are declining in numbers in the Katy area due to habitat destruction.  This snake prefers open areas which are being destroyed at a rapid pace around Katy for houses, roads, and retail centers.  Heavily wooded nature preserves and frequently mowed bayous vegetated with invasive bermuda grass unfortunately do not provide the habitat these snakes need. Defense The first defense for this snake is to flee.  In my experience this snake will usually strike a couple times and then feign death or hide its head under body coils as defense.  This species is known to repeatedly bite if restrained but the result is likely to be nothing more than a scratch that heals in a couple of days.