Field Guide

Reptiles and Amphibians

Showing 1 - 10 of 19 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.
Media
Image of American Bullfrog
Species Types
Scientific Name
Lithobates catesbeianus (formerly Rana catesbeiana)
Description
The American bullfrog is Missouri’s largest frog. This common species is easy to hear on warm nights when the males call a deep, sonorous “jug-a-rum, jug-a-rum” that can be heard from half a mile away.
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
Image of an eastern river cooter (turtle)
Species Types
Scientific Name
Pseudemys concinna concinna
Description
The eastern river cooter is a broad-shelled aquatic turtle with a seemingly small head. It is most abundant in the rivers and sloughs of southern Missouri but also has taken up residence in some of our large reservoirs.
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 a false map turtle
Species Types
Scientific Name
Graptemys pseudogeographica pseudogeographica
Description
The false map turtle is a medium-sized aquatic species with a low ridge along the center of the upper shell. A thick yellow line behind each eye forms a backward L shape. It occurs in large rivers and reservoirs in central, northeastern, northwestern, and southeastern Missouri.
Media
Photo of a four-toed salamander on a mossy rock.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Hemidactylium scutatum
Description
A glacial relict in Missouri’s eastern Ozarks, the four-toed salamander lives among mosses in heavily forested streams and creeks and sinkhole ponds. In the northern part of its range, this salamander lives in peat bogs.
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.
Media
midland brownsnake
Species Types
Scientific Name
Storeria dekayi wrightorum
Description
The midland brownsnake is a small, secretive species that prefers moist environments. It can be gray to brown to reddish brown, and 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.
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.
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.