Field Guide

Reptiles and Amphibians

Showing 1 - 10 of 53 results
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
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.
Media
Photo of a northern watersnake rearing back in grass on land.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Nerodia sipedon sipedon
Description
The northern watersnake is gray to reddish brown with dark brown crossbands. The belly is cream-colored with black and reddish half-moon markings. This is Missouri’s most common watersnake.
Media
Image of a Mississippi green watersnake
Species Types
Scientific Name
Nerodia cyclopion
Description
The Mississippi green watersnake is a medium-sized, heavy-bodied, dark-colored semiaquatic snake that was once somewhat common in southeastern Missouri. It probably no longer occurs in our state at all.
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
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
A snake-like creature, tan with black stripes, moves through the underbrush. It is shaped like a question mark, with the head curved and the long tail straight.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Ophisaurus attenuatus attenuatus
Description
The western slender glass lizard is often called “glass snake” because it is long, slender, and legless, and its tail breaks off easily. However, glass lizards are true lizards, with eyelids and ear openings; snakes have neither of these characteristics.
Media
Photo of an ornate box turtle walking.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Terrapene ornata
Description
The ornate box turtle usually has four hind toes. Its high-domed shell is usually smooth on top, lacks a ridge, and is brown with yellow lines. Look for it in grassy habitats.
Media
Three-toed box turtle
Species Types
Scientific Name
Terrapene carolina triunguis
Description
This box turtle usually has three hind toes. Its high-domed shell usually has a top ridge and is olive or brown with faint yellow or orange lines. Look for it in woodland habitats.
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.