Field Guide

Reptiles and Amphibians

Showing 1 - 7 of 7 results
Media
Photo of a central newt adult on a plastic aquarium plant.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Notophthalmus viridescens louisianensis
Description
A small, olive-brown salamander with a fascinating life cycle, the central newt lives in and around woodland ponds and swamps in all but our far northwestern counties.
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 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 dark salamander scurries across a leaf
Species Types
Scientific Name
Ambystoma opacum
Description
Unlike many of its close relatives, this salamander breeds in the autumn instead of early spring, and on land instead of in water. Females lay their eggs near a pond, curl protectively around them, then wait until rains make the pond water high enough to cover the eggs.
Media
Photo of a Frank Nelson Mole salamander in its natural habitat.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Ambystoma talpoideum
Description
The large-headed, dull gray or brown mole salamander is rarely seen because it spends almost all its time below ground. In Missouri, it is restricted to the lowlands of our southeastern counties.
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
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.
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.