Field Guide

Reptiles and Amphibians

Showing 1 - 10 of 13 results
Media
Image of a bullsnake
Species Types
Scientific Name
Pituophis catenifer sayi
Description
Missouri's largest snake, the bullsnake may hiss loudly and vibrate its tail when alarmed, but it is nonvenomous. This species is extremely valuable in controlling destructive rodents.
Media
Diamond-Backed Watersnake
Species Types
Scientific Name
Nerodia rhombifer
Description
The diamond-backed watersnake is our largest watersnake. It has light-colored, diamond-shaped markings along the back. It's common in the southeastern corner and over northern and western Missouri, but it doesn’t occur in the Ozarks or in our extreme northern counties.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Lampropeltis nigra
Description
Until recently, the eastern black kingsnake was known to occur only east of the Mississippi River, but individuals of this species have been discovered in southeastern Missouri.
Media
eastern coachwhip
Species Types
Scientific Name
Coluber flagellum flagellum
Description
The eastern coachwhip is a long, slender, nonvenomous snake that usually escapes in an explosive burst of speed. It thrashes when captured, which led to the stubborn myth that this snake can whip a person to death.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Pantherophis vulpinus
Description
The eastern foxsnake is extremely similar to the western foxsnake and is mainly identified by its different geographic distribution: in Missouri, this rare species is found only in a few counties along the Mississippi River floodplain north from St. Louis.
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 northern cottonmouth
Species Types
Scientific Name
Agkistrodon piscivorus
Description
The cottonmouth is named for the cotton-white lining of its mouth, which it opens wildely when alarmed. This dangerously venomous, semiaquatic snake occurs in the southeastern corner of Missouri, with a spotty distribution in the Ozark Region.
Media
Image of a speckled kingsnake
Species Types
Scientific Name
Lampropeltis holbrooki
Description
This handsome snake is generally black, but a white or yellow spot in the center of most of the scales makes it look speckled. The belly is yellowish with some irregular black markings. Like the rest of our kingsnakes, this species vibrates its tail when alarmed.
Media
Photo of a three-toed amphiuma in an aquarium.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Amphiuma tridactylum
Description
The three-toed amphiuma is an eel-like, completely aquatic salamander. It has very small fore- and hind limbs, each with three very small toes. In Missouri it’s found only in the Bootheel region.
Media
Image of a timber rattlesnake
Species Types
Scientific Name
Crotalus horridus
Description
Missouri’s largest venomous snake, the timber rattlesnake, is dangerously venomous, but there are few cases of rattlesnake bites in our state. It frequents rough country, is mostly nocturnal in summer and few Missourians ever encounter it.
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.