Field Guide

Reptiles and Amphibians

Showing 1 - 10 of 35 results
Media
small green snake coiled in straw
Species Types
Scientific Name
Opheodrys vernalis
Description
The smooth greensnake has been declared extirpated from Missouri. If it is ever found again within our borders, it will probably be in grassy meadows in the northern half of the state. It differs from the similar rough greensnake by having smooth scales, a smaller size, and a more northern distribution in Missouri.
Media
photo of juvenile southern coal skink
Species Types
Scientific Name
Plestiodon anthracinus pluvialis
Description
The southern coal skink is secretive and few people know about it. This lizard has a wide, coal-black line along its sides. During the breeding season males have an orange head.
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 researcher holding a gilled siren
Species Types
Scientific Name
Siren intermedia nettingi
Description
The western lesser siren is an eel-like, aquatic salamander with external gills, small eyes, small forelimbs with four toes, and no hind limbs. In Missouri, it’s found mostly in the Bootheel and northward in counties near the Mississippi River.
Media
Black snake with orange and yellow stripes crossing a gravel road.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Thamnophis proximus proximus
Description
Our subspecies of western ribbonsnake is named for the attractive orange (or yellowish) stripes running the length of its body. A member of the gartersnake group, this species is found statewide, but seldom far from water.
Media
Image of a blanding's turtle
Species Types
Scientific Name
Emydoidea blandingii
Description
Blanding’s turtle has an oval, moderately high-domed upper shell and a long head and neck. This turtle is endangered in Missouri and occurs only in the extreme northern corners of the state.
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
painted turtle
Species Types
Scientific Name
Chrysemys picta bellii
Description
The western painted turtle is a small, brightly colored aquatic turtle. The upper shell is smooth and has a red-orange outer edge. The colorful lower shell has a prominent pattern of brown markings. It is found nearly everywhere in the state except the southeast region.
Media
Species Types
Scientific Name
Kinosternon subrubrum hippocrepis
Description
Although well equipped for an aquatic existence, the Mississippi mud turtle spends as much time wandering about on land as it does in water. Look for it in the Mississippi Lowlands of Missouri’s Bootheel.
Media
Image of a green frog
Species Types
Scientific Name
Lithobates clamitans (formerly Rana clamitans)
Description
The green frog looks similar to a bullfrog but is smaller and has a ridge of skin along the sides of the back that is not found on bullfrogs. It is a game animal in Missouri.
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.