Field Guide

Reptiles and Amphibians

Showing 1 - 10 of 12 results
Media
Eastern gartersnake
Species Types
Scientific Name
Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis
Description
The eastern gartersnake is Missouri's most common gartersnake. The color is variable (dark brown, greenish, or olive), but there are normally three yellowish stripes, one down the back and one on each side.
Media
Photo of a long-tailed salamander on a rotten log.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Eurycea longicauda longicauda
Description
The eastern long-tailed salamander and closely related dark-sided salamander are agile and can escape predators by using their tails for quick jumps. They live in the southern and eastern parts of Missouri.
Media
Image of an eastern river cooter (turtle)
Species Types
Scientific Name
Pseudemys concinna concinna
Description
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.
Media
Photo of an eastern tiger salamander with yellow spots.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Ambystoma tigrinum
Description
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 a tiger salamander is at night after a heavy rain.
Media
Photo of an eastern yellow-bellied racer.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Coluber constrictor flaviventris
Description
The color of eastern yellow-bellied racers is uniform but varies from olive, tan, brown, or blue to nearly black. The belly may be yellow, cream, or light blue gray. This nonvenomous snake occurs nearly statewide.
Media
Image of a false map turtle
Species Types
Scientific Name
Graptemys pseudogeographica pseudogeographica
Description
The false map turtle is a medium-sized aquatic species with a low ridge along the center of the upper shell. A thick yellow line behind each eye forms a backward L shape. It occurs in large rivers and reservoirs in central, northeastern, northwestern, and southeastern Missouri.
Media
Photo of a plains gartersnake taken in Lakewood, Colorado.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Thamnophis radix
Description
An attractive, medium-sized snake of wet meadows and marshes, the plains gartersnake spends warm summer days basking in the sun or searching for food. Winters are spent underground, probably in abandoned rodent tunnels.
Media
Image of a red-eared slider
Species Types
Scientific Name
Trachemys scripta elegans
Description
An attractive turtle with yellow pinstripes and red ears, this species is commonly seen basking on logs or rocks—until you get too close, and they slide into the water.
Media
Photo of a southern painted turtle basking on a log.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Chrysemys dorsalis
Description
The southern painted turtle is small and has a prominent yellow, orange, or red lengthwise stripe down the middle of the upper shell. In Missouri, this aquatic turtle is found only in the Bootheel.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Deirochelys reticularia miaria
Description
The western chicken turtle is a small-to medium-sized turtle with an oval shell and extremely long neck. It is endangered in Missouri, occurring only in the Mississippi Lowlands in the extreme southeastern part of the state.
See Also

About Reptiles and Amphibians in Missouri

Missouri’s herptiles comprise 43 amphibians and 75 reptiles. Amphibians, including salamanders, toads, and frogs, are vertebrate animals that spend at least part of their life cycle in water. They usually have moist skin, lack scales or claws, and are ectothermal (cold-blooded), so they do not produce their own body heat the way birds and mammals do. Reptiles, including turtles, lizards, and snakes, are also vertebrates, and most are ectothermal, but unlike amphibians, reptiles have dry skin with scales, the ones with legs have claws, and they do not have to live part of their lives in water.