Field Guide

Reptiles and Amphibians

Showing 1 - 10 of 15 results
Media
Photo of Broad-headed skink on ground among leaves
Species Types
Scientific Name
Plestiodon laticeps
Description
The broad-headed skink is a large, harmless, smooth-scaled lizard that lives along the edge of forests and woodlots. It often makes its home in a large dead tree, sometimes using abandoned woodpecker holes or other cavities.
Media
Image of a five-lined skink
Species Types
Scientific Name
Plestiodon fasciatus
Description
The common five-lined skink is Missouri's most common skink. Adults are olive or tan with lengthwise stripes. It is often called the blue-tailed skink for the coloration of juveniles.
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 an eastern snapping turtle walking on land with algae on shell.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Chelydra serpentina
Description
A large aquatic turtle with a big pointed head, long thick tail, and small lower shell, the eastern snapping turtle is common throughout the state, anywhere there is permanent water.
Media
Great Plains skink resting on a rock
Species Types
Scientific Name
Plestiodon obsoletus
Description
The Great Plains skink is a tan or light brown lizard with most of the scales edged in black, making it look speckled. These markings may form irregular lines along the back and sides. In Missouri, it's found only in our far western and southwestern counties.
Media
Species Types
Scientific Name
Kinosternon subrubrum hippocrepis
Description
Although well equipped for an aquatic existence, the Mississippi mud turtle spends as much time wandering about on land as it does in water. Look for it in the Mississippi Lowlands of Missouri’s Bootheel.
Media
prairie lizard
Species Types
Scientific Name
Sceloporus consobrinus
Description
The small, gray to brown, rough-scaled prairie lizard is common in open forests. It often lives around country homes and rock gardens and on stacks of firewood and split rail fences.
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
Image of a ringed salamander
Species Types
Scientific Name
Ambystoma annulatum
Description
A secretive salamander that spends most of its time under logs or rocks or in burrows, the ringed salamander isn’t perfectly named: Its “rings” don’t completely encircle its body.
Media
Image of a six-lined racerunner lizard
Species Types
Scientific Name
Aspidoscelis sexlineata
Description
The six-lined racerunner is a fast, alert ground dweller that don’t usually climb trees. Also called field-streaks and sand lappers, racerunners are close kin to the whiptail lizards you might know from the western United States.
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.