Field Guide

Reptiles and Amphibians

Showing 1 - 10 of 59 results
Media
Image of a red-eared slider
Species Types
Scientific Name
Trachemys scripta elegans
Description
The red-eared slider is an attractive aquatic turtle with yellow pinstripes and red ears. It is commonly seen basking on logs or rocks and occurs statewide, except for a few northern counties.
Media
Image of a northern cottonmouth
Species Types
Scientific Name
Agkistrodon piscivorus
Description
The cottonmouth is named for the cotton-white lining of its mouth, which it opens widely when alarmed. This dangerously venomous, semiaquatic snake occurs in the southeastern corner of Missouri, with a spotty distribution in the Ozark Region.
Media
Eastern musk turtle (stinkpot)
Species Types
Scientific Name
Sternotherus odoratus
Description
The eastern musk turtle is one of the world’s smallest turtles. It has a dark, domed upper shell and reduced lower shell. It occurs along our Mississippi River counties and in the southern two-thirds of the state.
Media
Photo of an ornate box turtle walking.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Terrapene ornata
Description
The ornate box turtle usually has four hind toes. Its high-domed shell is usually smooth on top, lacks a ridge, and is brown with yellow lines. Look for it in grassy habitats.
Media
Photo of a yellow mud turtle.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Kinosternon flavescens
Description
The yellow mud turtle is a small, uniformly colored, semiaquatic turtle restricted to certain counties in west-central, northeastern, and southwestern Missouri. It is an endangered species in our state.
Media
Photo of an eastern snapping turtle walking on land with algae on shell.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Chelydra serpentina
Description
A large aquatic turtle with a big pointed head, long thick tail, and small lower shell, the eastern snapping turtle is common throughout the state, anywhere there is permanent water.
Media
Image of a Mississippi green watersnake
Species Types
Scientific Name
Nerodia cyclopion
Description
The Mississippi green watersnake is a medium-sized, heavy-bodied, dark-colored semiaquatic snake that was once somewhat common in southeastern Missouri. It probably no longer occurs in our state at all.
Media
midland brownsnake
Species Types
Scientific Name
Storeria dekayi
Description
Dekay's brownsnake is a small, secretive species that prefers moist environments. It can be gray to brown to reddish brown. It usually has a tan stripe running down the back, bordered by two rows of small brown spots. The top of the head is usually dark. Occurs statewide.
Media
Eastern gartersnake
Species Types
Scientific Name
Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis (eastern gartersnake) and T. s. parietalis (red-sided gartersnake)
Description
The eastern gartersnake and red-sided gartersnake are Missouri's most common gartersnakes. The color is variable, but there are normally three yellowish stripes, one down the back and one on each side. There are narrow black bars between the scales along the upper lip.
Media
Photo of a plains gartersnake taken in Lakewood, Colorado.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Thamnophis radix
Description
A medium-sized, striped snake of wet prairies and marshes, the plains gartersnake occurs mainly in Missouri's north-central and northwestern counties, with isolated populations in and west of the St. Louis area.
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.