Field Guide

Reptiles and Amphibians

Showing 1 - 9 of 9 results
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
Kirtland's snake curled and resting on a dry, sandy substrate
Species Types
Scientific Name
Clonophis kirtlandii
Description
Kirtland’s snake is extremely rare and occurs in only a few states in the Midwest. It lives in crayfish burrows in grassland habitats that are damp and near a stream or wetland. It is restricted in Missouri to a few northeastern counties.
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 that occurs throughout Missouri, but not in the Ozarks. Like most other snakes associated with water, it is often misidentified as a cottonmouth and killed out of unwarranted fear.
Media
Diamond-Backed Watersnake
Species Types
Scientific Name
Nerodia rhombifer rhombifer
Description
The northern diamond-backed watersnake is our largest watersnake. It has numerous diamond-shaped light markings along the back. It occurs in the Bootheel and north along the Mississippi River, and in much of northern and western Missouri. It doesn’t occur in the Ozarks or in much of central-eastern Missouri.
Media
Image of a yellow-bellied watersnake
Species Types
Scientific Name
Nerodia erythrogaster
Description
The plain-bellied watersnake is a medium-sized, heavy-bodied, dark-colored, semiaquatic snake with a plain yellow belly. It's present in the Bootheel and north along the Mississippi River floodplain, and along our southernmost counties and northward in western Missouri into parts of northwest Missouri.
Media
Image of a broad-banded watersnake
Species Types
Scientific Name
Nerodia fasciata confluens
Description
The broad-banded watersnake is a semiaquatic snake with broad, irregularly shaped bands that can be brown, reddish brown, or black and are separated by yellow or gray. This nonvenomous species is restricted to the southeastern corner of the state.
Media
Photo of a northern watersnake rearing back in grass on land.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Nerodia sipedon sipedon (northern watersnake) and N. s. pleuralis (midland watersnake)
Description
The northern watersnake and midland watersnake are Missouri's two subspecies of common watersnake. Together they occur statewide. Color is variable: gray, tan, or reddish brown with dark crossbands or blotches. The belly is cream-colored with red, brown, or black spots or half-moon markings.
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
Green Snake
Species Types
Scientific Name
Opheodrys aestivus aestivus
Description
The northern rough greensnake is a long, slender snake common in the Ozarks. It is light green above with a white or yellowish belly. The scales on the back have small ridges that feel rough to the touch. Its beautiful green color helps this mild-mannered insectivore blend in with tree leaves.
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.