Field Guide

Reptiles and Amphibians

Showing 1 - 10 of 11 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 an eastern hog-nosed snake.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Heterodon platirhinos
Description
The eastern hog-nosed snake has an upturned snout and can hiss loudly and spread its neck like a cobra. If this defense fails to ward off an enemy, the snake may thrash around, open its mouth, roll over, and play dead.
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 green treefrog
Species Types
Scientific Name
Hyla cinerea
Description
The bright green treefrog hides perfectly among cattail leaves, where it rests until evening. Then it begins hunting for insects.
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 a plains leopard frog in grass.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Lithobates blairi (formerly Rana blairi)
Description
A medium-sized spotted frog, the plains leopard frog is found in pastures, prairies, and marshes. The ridge of skin along each side of the back is broken, and the small posterior section is raised toward the back. It is not present in the Ozarks.
Media
Photo of a southern leopard frog.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Lithobates sphenocephalus (formerly Rana sphenocephala)
Description
The attractively spotted southern leopard frog is an excellent jumper and quickly leaps into water when startled. The males’ chuckling calls entertain us even as they function to attract females for breeding. Found statewide except for the northwestern corner.
Media
Three-toed box turtle
Species Types
Scientific Name
Terrapene carolina triunguis
Description
This box turtle usually has three hind toes. Its high-domed shell usually has a top ridge and is olive or brown with faint yellow or orange lines. Look for it in woodland habitats.
Media
Image of a western narrow-mouthed toad
Species Types
Scientific Name
Gastrophryne olivacea
Description
The western narrow-mouthed toad has a plump body, small pointed head, and a fold of skin behind the eyes. This species is typically uniform in color, ranging from tan to gray or olive green, and it has a white belly.
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.