Field Guide

Reptiles and Amphibians

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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.