Field Guide

Reptiles and Amphibians

Showing 1 - 10 of 43 results
Media
Photo of Broad-headed skink on ground among leaves
Species Types
Scientific Name
Plestiodon laticeps
Description
The broad-headed skink is a large, harmless, smooth-scaled lizard that lives along the edge of forests and woodlots. It often makes its home in a large dead tree, sometimes using abandoned woodpecker holes or other cavities.
Media
Image of a cave salamander
Species Types
Scientific Name
Eurycea lucifuga
Description
The cave salamander is a common amphibian of the Ozark Plateau. It lives in caves, springs, and rocky streams. Recognize it by its normally bright orange skin dotted with dark brown or black spots.
Media
Image of a five-lined skink
Species Types
Scientific Name
Plestiodon fasciatus
Description
The common five-lined skink is Missouri's most common skink. Adults are olive or tan with lengthwise stripes. It is often called the blue-tailed skink for the coloration of juveniles.
Media
eastern coachwhip
Species Types
Scientific Name
Coluber flagellum flagellum
Description
The eastern coachwhip is a long, slender, nonvenomous snake that usually escapes in an explosive burst of speed. It thrashes when captured, which led to the stubborn myth that this snake can whip a person to death.
Media
Image of an osage copperhead
Species Types
Scientific Name
Agkistrodon contortrix
Description
The eastern copperhead is the most common venomous snake in Missouri. Its color varies from grayish brown to pinkish tan, with distinctive hourglass-shaped crossbands.
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 an eastern hog-nosed snake.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Heterodon platirhinos
Description
The eastern hog-nosed snake has an upturned snout and can hiss loudly and spread its neck like a cobra. If this defense fails to ward off an enemy, the snake may thrash around, open its mouth, roll over, and play dead.
Media
Photo of a long-tailed salamander on a rotten log.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Eurycea longicauda longicauda
Description
The eastern long-tailed salamander and closely related dark-sided salamander are agile and can escape predators by using their tails for quick jumps. They live in the southern and eastern parts of Missouri.
Media
Image of a red milksnake
Species Types
Scientific Name
Lampropeltis triangulum
Description
One of Missouri’s most beautifully colored snakes, the harmless eastern milksnake often is misidentified as the venomous coralsnake, which is not found in Missouri.
Media
Photo of an eastern tiger salamander with yellow spots.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Ambystoma tigrinum
Description
Tiger salamanders belong to the mole salamander family, named because they spend most of their time underground, often in burrows made by small mammals or under logs and rocks. Your best chance of seeing a tiger salamander is at night after a heavy rain.
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.