Field Guide

Reptiles and Amphibians

Showing 1 - 10 of 16 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.
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 Great Plains ratsnake
Species Types
Scientific Name
Pantherophis emoryi
Description
The Great Plains ratsnake is seldom seen. It has numerous brown blotches along the body, a brown eye stripe, and a spearhead marking on top of the head.
Media
Image of a Mississippi green watersnake
Species Types
Scientific Name
Nerodia cyclopion
Description
The Mississippi green watersnake is a medium-sized, heavy-bodied, dark-colored semiaquatic snake that was once somewhat common in southeastern Missouri. It probably no longer occurs in our state at all.
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
Photo of a northern watersnake rearing back in grass on land.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Nerodia sipedon sipedon
Description
The northern watersnake is gray to reddish brown with dark brown crossbands. The belly is cream-colored with black and reddish half-moon markings. This is Missouri’s most common watersnake.
Media
Image of a yellow-bellied watersnake
Species Types
Scientific Name
Nerodia erythrogaster
Description
The plain-bellied watersnake is a medium-sized, heavy-bodied, dark-colored, semiaquatic snake with a plain yellow belly. It is found throughout southeastern Missouri and north along the Mississippi River floodplain.
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.