Field Guide

Reptiles and Amphibians

Showing 1 - 10 of 33 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
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
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
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. It has a thick, round tail that is constricted at its base. There are four toes on each limb.
Media
Image of a northern cottonmouth
Species Types
Scientific Name
Agkistrodon piscivorus
Description
The cottonmouth is named for the cotton-white lining of its mouth, which it opens widely when alarmed. This dangerously venomous, semiaquatic snake occurs in the southeastern corner of Missouri, with a spotty distribution in the Ozark Region.
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
Diamond-Backed Watersnake
Species Types
Scientific Name
Nerodia rhombifer rhombifer
Description
The northern diamond-backed watersnake is our largest watersnake. It has light-colored, diamond-shaped markings along the back. It's common in the southeastern corner and over northern and western Missouri, but it doesn’t occur in the Ozarks or in our extreme northern counties.
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.
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.