Field Guide

Reptiles and Amphibians

Showing 1 - 10 of 25 results
Media
small green snake coiled in straw
Species Types
Scientific Name
Opheodrys vernalis
Description
The smooth greensnake has been declared extirpated from Missouri. If it is ever found again within our borders, it will probably be in grassy meadows in the northern half of the state. It differs from the similar rough greensnake by having smooth scales, a smaller size, and a more northern distribution in Missouri.
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
painted turtle
Species Types
Scientific Name
Chrysemys picta bellii
Description
The western painted turtle is a small semiaquatic turtle. It has a smooth upper shell with a red-orange outer edge. The lower shell is red-orange with a prominent pattern of brown markings. It is found nearly everywhere in the state except the southeast region.
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.
Media
Image of an eastern collared lizard
Species Types
Scientific Name
Crotaphytus collaris
Description
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.
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 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
Photo of an ornate box turtle walking.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Terrapene ornata
Description
The ornate box turtle usually has four hind toes. Its high-domed shell is usually smooth on top, lacks a ridge, and is brown with yellow lines. Look for it in grassy habitats.
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
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.