Field Guide

Reptiles and Amphibians

Showing 1 - 10 of 15 results
Media
hellbender, a large brown salamander resting in gravelly streambed
Species Types
Scientific Name
Cryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis
Description
The eastern hellbender is a large, entirely aquatic salamander with a wide, flat head, small, lidless eyes, and soft folds of skin on the sides. In Missouri, it occurs in the northern Ozark highlands in spring-fed rivers that drain north into the Missouri and Meramec river drainages.
Media
Image of a spotted salamander
Species Types
Scientific Name
Ambystoma maculatum
Description
The spotted salamander is one of Missouri's six species of mole salamanders. It is slate black with two irregular rows of rounded yellow spots from the head onto the tail. It occurs in forests in the southern two-thirds of the state.
Media
Photo of a small-mouthed salamander.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Ambystoma texanum
Description
The small-mouthed salamander is a medium-sized, dark gray to black or dark brown salamander with a small head and mouth. In Missouri, it’s found nearly statewide — but not in the Ozarks.
Media
Photo of a Frank Nelson Mole salamander in its natural habitat.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Ambystoma talpoideum
Description
The mole salamander is broad-headed, dull gray or brown, with a small body and tail and large limbs. It is spends almost all its time below ground. In Missouri, it is restricted to the lowlands of our southeastern counties.
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.
Media
Image of a grotto salamander
Species Types
Scientific Name
Eurycea spelaea
Description
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. Occurs in wet caves in the Ozarks.
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
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 researcher holding a gilled siren
Species Types
Scientific Name
Siren intermedia nettingi
Description
The western lesser siren is an eel-like, aquatic salamander with external gills, small eyes, small forelimbs with four toes, and no hind limbs. In Missouri, it’s found mostly in the Bootheel and northward in counties near the Mississippi River.
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 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.