Field Guide

Reptiles and Amphibians

Showing 1 - 10 of 29 results
Media
Image of alligator snapping turtle
Species Types
Scientific Name
Macrochelys temminckii
Description
In Missouri, alligator snapping turtles are protected, and it is illegal to harvest them. This species is totally aquatic and rarely leaves the water. In Missouri, it mainly occurs in the large rivers, sloughs, and oxbow lakes of our southern, southeastern, and eastern counties.
Media
Image of American Bullfrog
Species Types
Scientific Name
Lithobates catesbeianus (formerly Rana catesbeiana)
Description
The American bullfrog is Missouri’s largest frog. This common species is easy to hear on warm nights when the males call a deep, sonorous “jug-a-rum, jug-a-rum” that can be heard from half a mile away.
Media
Blanchard's Cricket Frog
Species Types
Scientific Name
Acris blanchardi (formerly Acris crepitans blanchardi)
Description
Blanchard's cricket frog is a nonclimbing member of the treefrog family. It lacks the adhesive toe pads associated with treefrogs. It occurs statewide. The call is a metallic “gick, gick, gick.”
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
Red River mudpuppy resting on a gravel stream bottom
Species Types
Scientific Name
Necturus maculosus maculosus
Description
Mudpuppies are aquatic salamanders that have plumelike external gills throughout their entire lives. They’re found in the southern half and along the eastern edge of Missouri.
Media
hellbender, a large brown salamander resting in gravelly streambed
Species Types
Scientific Name
Cryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis
Description
The eastern hellbender is a large, entirely aquatic salamander with a wide, flat head, small, lidless eyes, and soft folds of skin on the sides. In Missouri, it occurs in the northern Ozark highlands in spring-fed rivers that drain north into the Missouri and Meramec river drainages.
Media
Eastern musk turtle (stinkpot)
Species Types
Scientific Name
Sternotherus odoratus
Description
The eastern musk turtle is one of the world’s smallest turtles. It has a dark, domed upper shell and reduced lower shell. It occurs along our Mississippi River counties and in the southern two-thirds of the state.
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
Eastern Spiny Softshell
Species Types
Scientific Name
Apalone spinifera spinifera
Description
The eastern spiny softshell is a medium to large softshell turtle with small bumps or spines on the front edge of the upper shell. There are dark spots on the fore- and hind limbs.
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.
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.