Field Guide

Reptiles and Amphibians

Showing 1 - 10 of 23 results
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
Photo of a northern red-bellied snake on a rock.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Storeria occipitomaculata
Description
The red-bellied snake is one of our smallest snakes. It is generally gray brown or reddish brown on top, bright red or orange below. This harmless species is sometimes mistaken for a young copperhead and needlessly killed.
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
Image of a cave salamander
Species Types
Scientific Name
Eurycea lucifuga
Description
The cave salamander is a common amphibian of the Ozark Plateau. It lives in caves, springs, and rocky streams. Recognize it by its normally bright orange skin dotted with dark brown or black spots.
Media
Photo of a southern red-backed salamander on an oak leaf.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Plethodon serratus
Description
The southern red-backed salamander is small and slender, with a distinct, narrow, red or orange mid-dorsal stripe with saw-toothed edges. It hides under rocks, mosses, and rotten logs in Ozark forests.
Media
A reddish-brown salamander with an orange stripe down its back is curled on a moss-covered rock.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Plethodon angusticlavius
Description
The Ozark zigzag salamander is small and slender, with a narrow, somewhat lobed dorsal stripe that can be yellow, orange, or red. This woodland species lives in Missouri’s southwestern counties along the Arkansas border.
Media
Image of an american toad
Species Types
Scientific Name
Anaxyrus americanus americanus (formerly Bufo americanus)
Description
The eastern American toad is medium-sized, with horizontal pupils and with a kidney-shaped gland behind each eye. Despite their rough complexion, these common, harmless toads are endearing to most people.
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
Image of a variable groundsnake
Species Types
Scientific Name
Sonora semiannulata semiannulata
Description
The variable groundsnake is a small species with smooth, shiny scales and highly variable coloration. In Missouri, it is restricted to open, rocky hillsides of the southwestern corner of the state.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Clonophis kirtlandii
Description
Kirtland’s snake is small, hard to find, and occurs in only a few states in the Midwest. It uses mainly crayfish burrows in grassland habitats that are damp and near a stream or wetland. It is extremely rare.
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.