Field Guide

Reptiles and Amphibians

Showing 1 - 10 of 12 results
Media
Image of an eastern river cooter (turtle)
Species Types
Scientific Name
Pseudemys concinna concinna
Description
The eastern river cooter is a broad-shelled aquatic turtle with a seemingly small head. It is most abundant in the rivers and sloughs of southern Missouri but also has taken up residence in some of our large reservoirs.
Media
Eastern Spiny Softshell
Species Types
Scientific Name
Apalone spinifera spinifera
Description
The eastern spiny softshell is a medium to large softshell turtle with small bumps or spines on the front edge of the upper shell. There are dark spots on the fore- and hind limbs.
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
midland smooth softshell
Species Types
Scientific Name
Apalone mutica mutica
Description
The midland smooth softshell is a rather plain-looking softshell turtle, with a smooth, rather featureless olive-gray or brown shell, and a light stripe bordered by black extending backward from each eye.
Media
Image of a northern map turtle
Species Types
Scientific Name
Graptemys geographica
Description
The northern map turtle is a small- to medium-sized aquatic species with a low ridge along the center of the upper shell. A small yellow spot is present behind each eye. It occurs mainly in the Ozarks and the upper Mississippi River in northeastern Missouri.
Media
Ouachita Map Turtle
Species Types
Scientific Name
Graptemys ouachitensis ouachitensis
Description
The Ouachita map turtle is a small- to medium-sized semiaquatic species with a prominent ridge down the center of the upper shell and bright yellow lines on the head and limbs. A large yellow marking behind each eye extends, narrowing, on top of the head. It occurs in southern and southwestern Missouri.
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
Photo of a southern painted turtle basking on a log.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Chrysemys dorsalis
Description
The southern painted turtle is small and has a prominent yellow, orange, or red lengthwise stripe down the middle of the upper shell. In Missouri, this aquatic turtle is found only in the Bootheel.
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.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Deirochelys reticularia miaria
Description
The western chicken turtle is a small-to medium-sized turtle with an oval shell and extremely long neck. It is endangered in Missouri, occurring only in the Mississippi Lowlands in the extreme southeastern part of the state.
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.