Field Guide

Reptiles and Amphibians

Showing 1 - 10 of 17 results
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.
Media
Image of a broad-banded watersnake
Species Types
Scientific Name
Nerodia fasciata confluens
Description
The broad-banded watersnake is a beautiful semiaquatic snake with broad, irregularly shaped bands that can be brown, red-brown, or black and are separated by yellow and gray. This nonvenomous species is restricted to the southeastern corner of the state.
Media
Red River mudpuppy resting on a gravel stream bottom
Species Types
Scientific Name
Necturus maculosus maculosus
Description
Mudpuppies are aquatic salamanders that have plumelike external gills throughout their entire lives. They’re found in the southern half and along the eastern edge of Missouri.
Media
hellbender, a large brown salamander resting in gravelly streambed
Species Types
Scientific Name
Cryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis
Description
The eastern hellbender is a large, entirely aquatic salamander with a wide, flat head, small, lidless eyes, and soft folds of skin on the sides. In Missouri, it occurs in the northern Ozark highlands in spring-fed rivers that drain north into the Missouri and Meramec river drainages.
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
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 graham's crayfish snake
Species Types
Scientific Name
Regina grahamii
Description
Graham's crawfish snake is a medium-sized, dull-colored, semiaquatic snake known from prairie streams, marshes, and ponds. Like most other snakes associated with water, it is often misidentified as a cottonmouth and needlessly killed.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Clonophis kirtlandii
Description
Kirtland’s snake is small, hard to find, and occurs in only a few states in the Midwest. It uses mainly crayfish burrows in grassland habitats that are damp and near a stream or wetland. It is extremely rare.
Media
midland smooth softshell
Species Types
Scientific Name
Apalone mutica mutica
Description
The midland smooth softshell is a rather plain-looking softshell turtle, with a smooth, rather featureless olive-gray or brown shell, and a light stripe bordered by black extending backward from each eye.
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.
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.