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
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 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
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, slender, and dark, 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 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
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, dark, 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
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.