This large, slender, nonvenomous snake usually escapes in an explosive burst of speed. It is fast-moving and thrashes when captured, which led to the stubborn myth that this snake can whip a person to death.
The eastern collared lizard is colorful and has a long tail. If surprised in an open area with no rock crevices nearby to dart into, it often runs on its hind limbs with the forward part of the body held upright.
Of the five kinds of garter snakes in Missouri, the eastern gartersnake is the most common. Though the color is variable (dark brown, greenish, or olive), there are normally three yellowish stripes, one down the back and one on each side.
This harmless snake with an upturned snout can hiss loudly and spread its neck like a cobra. If this defense fails to ward off an enemy, the snake may thrash around, open its mouth, roll over, and play dead.
The eastern musk turtle is one of the world’s smallest turtles. It has a dark, domed upper shell and reduced lower shell. It occurs along our Mississippi River counties and in the southern two-thirds of the state.
The eastern river cooter is a broad-shelled aquatic turtle with a seemingly small head. It is most abundant in the rivers and sloughs of southern Missouri but also has taken up residence in some of our large reservoirs.
The eastern spadefoot is a stout, toadlike amphibian with large, protruding eyes, vertically elliptical pupils, short legs, and large feet. In Missouri, it occurs in eastern counties along the Mississippi River and in the Bootheel.
Tiger salamanders belong to the “mole salamander” family, named because they spend most of their time underground, often in burrows made by small mammals or under logs and rocks. Your best chance of seeing tiger salamander is at night after a heavy rain.
MDC protects and manages Missouri's fish, forest, and wildlife resources. We also facilitate your participation in resource-management activities, and we provide opportunities for you to use, enjoy and learn about nature.