Field Guide

Reptiles and Amphibians

Showing 1 - 10 of 41 results
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 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 western foxsnake
Species Types
Scientific Name
Pantherophis ramspotti
Description
The western foxsnake is a moderately large snake with distinct brown blotches. In Missouri, it is rare and found only in our far northwestern counties.
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
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 variable groundsnake
Species Types
Scientific Name
Sonora semiannulata semiannulata
Description
The variable groundsnake is a small species with smooth, shiny scales and highly variable coloration. In Missouri, it is restricted to open, rocky hillsides of the southwestern corner of the state.
Media
Image of a western smooth earthsnake
Species Types
Scientific Name
Virginia valeriae elegans
Description
The western smooth earthsnake is a small, slightly stout snake with a conical head. It is plain-colored, generally gray, light brown, or reddish brown, with no distinct markings. It is found statewide, except for the northwestern corner.
Media
small green snake coiled in straw
Species Types
Scientific Name
Opheodrys vernalis
Description
The smooth greensnake has been declared extirpated from Missouri. If it is ever found again within our borders, it will probably be in grassy meadows in the northern half of the state. It differs from the similar rough greensnake by having smooth scales, a smaller size, and a more northern distribution in Missouri.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Clonophis kirtlandii
Description
Kirtland’s snake is small, hard to find, and occurs in only a few states in the Midwest. It uses mainly crayfish burrows in grassland habitats that are damp and near a stream or wetland. It is extremely rare.
Media
Image of a broad-banded watersnake
Species Types
Scientific Name
Nerodia fasciata confluens
Description
The broad-banded watersnake is a beautiful semiaquatic snake with broad, irregularly shaped bands that can be brown, red-brown, or black and are separated by yellow and gray. This nonvenomous species is restricted to the southeastern corner 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.