Field Guide

Reptiles and Amphibians

Showing 1 - 10 of 13 results
Media
Photo of Broad-headed skink on ground among leaves
Species Types
Scientific Name
Plestiodon laticeps
Description
The broad-headed skink is a large, harmless, smooth-scaled lizard that lives along the edge of forests and woodlots. It often makes its home in a large dead tree, sometimes using abandoned woodpecker holes or other cavities.
Media
Image of a five-lined skink
Species Types
Scientific Name
Plestiodon fasciatus
Description
The common five-lined skink is Missouri's most common skink. Adults are olive or tan with lengthwise stripes. It is often called the blue-tailed skink for the coloration of juveniles.
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.
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
Image of a red milksnake
Species Types
Scientific Name
Lampropeltis triangulum
Description
One of Missouri’s most beautifully colored snakes, the harmless eastern milksnake often is misidentified as the venomous coralsnake, which is not found in Missouri.
Media
Photo of a flat-headed snake held in someone’s hands
Species Types
Scientific Name
Tantilla gracilis
Description
The flat-headed snake is Missouri's smallest snake. It is found in the southern half of the state except the far southeastern corner.
Media
Photo of a northern red-bellied snake on a rock.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Storeria occipitomaculata occipitomaculata
Description
The northern red-bellied snake is 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
Photo of a northern scarletsnake on a rock surface in Georgia.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Cemophora coccinea copei
Description
One of Missouri's most brilliantly colored snakes is extremely rare to find. The northern scarletsnake is similar in pattern and color to the more common red milksnake but has a red or orange snout and a spotless, white belly.
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.
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.