Field Guide

Reptiles and Amphibians

Showing 1 - 10 of 49 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 bullsnake
Species Types
Scientific Name
Pituophis catenifer sayi
Description
Missouri's largest snake, the bullsnake may hiss loudly and vibrate its tail when alarmed, but it is nonvenomous. This species is extremely valuable in controlling destructive rodents.
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.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Pantherophis vulpinus
Description
The eastern foxsnake is extremely similar to the western foxsnake and is mainly identified by its different geographic distribution: in Missouri, this rare species is found only in a few counties along the Mississippi River floodplain north from St. Louis.
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
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
Image of an eastern narrow-mouthed toad
Species Types
Scientific Name
Gastrophryne carolinensis
Description
The eastern narrow-mouthed toad is an unusual, plump little amphibian that is seldom seen. There is a fold of skin behind its narrow, pointed head. It occurs in the southern half 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.