Field Guide

Reptiles and Amphibians

Showing 1 - 9 of 9 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
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
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
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.
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
Photo of a western ratsnake curled up in grasses under a fence.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Pantherophis obsoletus
Description
The western ratsnake, a glossy black snake, is one of Missouri’s largest and most familiar snakes. Its size and dark color make it seem imposing, but it is as harmless to humans as it is bad news for rodents!
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.