Field Guide

Reptiles and Amphibians

Showing 1 - 10 of 12 results
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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.
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Eastern Spiny Softshell
Species Types
Scientific Name
Apalone spinifera spinifera
Description
The eastern spiny softshell is a medium to large softshell turtle with small bumps or spines on the front edge of the upper shell. There are dark spots on the fore- and hind limbs.
Media
Image of alligator snapping turtle
Species Types
Scientific Name
Macrochelys temminckii
Description
In Missouri, alligator snapping turtles are protected, and it is illegal to harvest them. This species is totally aquatic and rarely leaves the water. In Missouri, it mainly occurs in the large rivers, sloughs, and oxbow lakes of our southern, southeastern, and eastern counties.
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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
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.
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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 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 region.
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.
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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.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Deirochelys reticularia miaria
Description
The western chicken turtle is a small to medium-sized turtle with an oval shell and extremely long neck. It is endangered in Missouri, occurring only in the Mississippi Lowlands in the extreme southeastern part of the state.
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.