Field Guide

Reptiles and Amphibians

Showing 1 - 10 of 58 results
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
Black snake with orange and yellow stripes crossing a gravel road.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Thamnophis proximus proximus
Description
Our subspecies of western ribbonsnake is named for the attractive orange (or yellowish) stripes running the length of its body. A member of the gartersnake group, this species is found statewide, but seldom far from water.
Media
midland brownsnake
Species Types
Scientific Name
Storeria dekayi
Description
DeKay's brownsnake is a small, secretive species that prefers moist environments. It can be gray to brown to reddish brown, and it usually has a tan stripe running down the back, bordered by two rows of small brown spots. The top of the head is usually dark.
Media
photo of juvenile southern coal skink
Species Types
Scientific Name
Plestiodon anthracinus pluvialis
Description
The southern coal skink is secretive and few people know about it. This lizard has a wide, coal-black line along its sides. During the breeding season males have an orange head.
Media
Eastern gartersnake
Species Types
Scientific Name
Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis
Description
The eastern gartersnake is Missouri's most common gartersnake. The color is variable (dark brown, greenish, or olive), but there are normally three yellowish stripes, one down the back and one on each side.
Media
Photo of a plains gartersnake taken in Lakewood, Colorado.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Thamnophis radix
Description
An attractive, medium-sized snake of wet meadows and marshes, the plains gartersnake spends warm summer days basking in the sun or searching for food. Winters are spent underground, probably in abandoned rodent tunnels.
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.
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
A black salamander with dark silver bands on its tail walks on a concrete pad.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Ambystoma opacum
Description
The marbled salamander is a small, stout salamander with silvery, white, or gray saddle-shaped markings on its body from head to tail. They occur in the southeastern half of the state and are seldom encountered except during the autumn breeding season.
Media
Image of a ringed salamander
Species Types
Scientific Name
Ambystoma annulatum
Description
The ringed salamander is secretive, spending most of its time under logs or rocks or in burrows. Its “rings” don’t completely encircle its body. Occurs in the southwestern and central Missouri Ozarks, and in the river hills of the Missouri River in eastern Missouri.
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.