Today, I ambled slowly around the yard with our geriatric dog as she picked out her favorite spot to take a pee. Some days she is very choosy – despite the oppressive heat and smoky air of a late desert summer.
As she finally crouched near a little pile of lumber debris we have near the fence, I noticed something move in the woodpile. The most gorgeous stretch of pink and cream stripes slid across a wide opening between scrap wood. I did not see its head, but I did see its tail – no rattle, just a creamy pink finish as the tail tapered down..
The dog finished her business and we made our way back into the house where, thanks to the internet, I could quickly identify our visitor.
Masticophis flagellum piceus or Red Coachwhip is native to our area and usually eats small critters like lizards as well as nesting birds and bird eggs. This snake is also sometimes identified as a Red Racer or Coluber flagellum piceus. It poses no threat to humans or most pets (of course I might be a bit cautious if we had a teacup chihuahua).
I found identification information here at A Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of California.
I had no camera with me, but this photo from the same site is precisely what I saw.