This is one of our longest snakes. A large, slender, fast-moving snake with dark color toward the front and lighter color at the back. It is dark brown or black from the head to more than half the length of the snake. The rest of the snake is tan, reddish brown, or light brown. Some specimens, especially in southwestern Missouri, are completely black or dark brown. The belly may be brown, tan, light yellow, or pink. Young coachwhips are marked with numerous dark brown crossbands over a tan ground color at the front of the body, fading to an overall tan at the rear. The dark markings disappear with age. When approached, a coachwhip will normally escape with an explosive burst of speed. If cornered, the snake will coil defensively, vibrate its tail, fight savagely, and bite to defend itself.