Field Guide

Reptiles and Amphibians

Showing 1 - 10 of 14 results
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
painted turtle
Species Types
Scientific Name
Chrysemys picta bellii
Description
The western painted turtle is a small semiaquatic turtle. It has a smooth upper shell with a red-orange outer edge. The lower shell is red-orange with a prominent pattern of brown markings. It is found nearly everywhere in the state except the southeast region.
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 southern painted turtle basking on a log.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Chrysemys dorsalis
Description
The southern painted turtle is small and has a prominent yellow, orange, or red lengthwise stripe down the middle of the upper shell. In Missouri, this aquatic turtle is found only in the Bootheel.
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.
Media
Photo of a yellow mud turtle.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Kinosternon flavescens
Description
The yellow mud turtle is a small, olive to dark-colored, semiaquatic turtle restricted to west-central, northeastern, and southwestern Missouri and is an endangered species in our state.
Media
Species Types
Scientific Name
Kinosternon subrubrum hippocrepis
Description
Although well equipped for an aquatic existence, the Mississippi mud turtle spends as much time wandering about on land as it does in water. Look for it in the Mississippi Lowlands of Missouri’s Bootheel.
Media
Photo of an eastern snapping turtle walking on land with algae on shell.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Chelydra serpentina
Description
A large aquatic turtle with a big pointed head, long thick tail, and small lower shell, the eastern snapping turtle is common throughout the state, anywhere there is permanent water.
Media
Image of a red-eared slider
Species Types
Scientific Name
Trachemys scripta elegans
Description
An attractive turtle with yellow pinstripes and red ears, this species is commonly seen basking on logs or rocks—until you get too close, and they slide into the water.
Media
Photo of a Rocky Mountain toad in lawn grass.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Anaxyrus woodhousii woodhousii
Description
The Rocky Mountain toad has a number of irregular dark brown or black spots on the back and a white belly. It occurs in the Missouri River floodplain, mostly from the central to the far northwestern parts 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.