Field Guide

Reptiles and Amphibians

Showing 1 - 10 of 12 results
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
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
Photo of an eastern yellow-bellied racer.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Coluber constrictor flaviventris
Description
The color of eastern yellow-bellied racers is uniform but varies from olive, tan, brown, or blue to nearly black. The belly may be yellow, cream, or light blue gray. This nonvenomous snake occurs nearly statewide.
Media
Image of a Great Plains ratsnake
Species Types
Scientific Name
Pantherophis emoryi
Description
The Great Plains ratsnake is seldom seen. It has numerous brown blotches along the body, a brown eye stripe, and a spearhead marking on top of the head.
Media
Image of a grotto salamander
Species Types
Scientific Name
Eurycea spelaea
Description
Many people know Missouri as “the cave state,” and the grotto salamander is Missouri’s only species of blind salamander. A true troglobite, it lives in total darkness and has small eyes that are completely or partially covered by their pink or beige skin.
Media
A reddish-brown salamander with an orange stripe down its back is curled on a moss-covered rock.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Plethodon angusticlavius
Description
The Ozark zigzag salamander is small, slender, and dark, with a narrow, somewhat lobed dorsal stripe that can be yellow, orange, or red. This woodland species lives in Missouri’s southwestern counties along the Arkansas border.
Media
Image of a pickerel frog
Species Types
Scientific Name
Lithobates palustris (formerly Rana palustris)
Description
The pickerel frog is medium-sized, with square or rectangular spots in two parallel rows down the back. There is a wide ridge of skin along each side of the back. It is absent from the northwestern third of Missouri.
Media
Photo of a southern red-backed salamander on an oak leaf.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Plethodon serratus
Description
The southern red-backed salamander is small, dark, and slender, with a distinct, narrow, red or orange mid-dorsal stripe with saw-toothed edges. It hides under rocks, mosses, and rotten logs in Ozark forests.
Media
Photo of a western ratsnake curled up in grasses under a fence.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Pantherophis obsoletus
Description
The western ratsnake, a glossy black snake, is one of Missouri’s largest and most familiar snakes. Its size and dark color make it seem imposing, but it is as harmless to humans as it is bad news for rodents!
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.