Field Guide

Reptiles and Amphibians

Showing 1 - 10 of 34 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
Image of a six-lined racerunner lizard
Species Types
Scientific Name
Aspidoscelis sexlineata
Description
The six-lined racerunner is a fast, alert ground dweller that don’t usually climb trees. Also called field-streaks and sand lappers, racerunners are close kin to the whiptail lizards you might know from the western United States.
Media
prairie lizard
Species Types
Scientific Name
Sceloporus consobrinus
Description
The small, gray to brown, rough-scaled prairie lizard is common in open forests. It often lives around country homes and rock gardens and on stacks of firewood and split rail fences.
Media
Great Plains skink resting on a rock
Species Types
Scientific Name
Plestiodon obsoletus
Description
The Great Plains skink is a tan or light brown lizard with most of the scales edged in black, making it look speckled. These markings may form irregular lines along the back and sides. In Missouri, it's found only in our far western and southwestern counties.
Media
Photo of a western ratsnake curled up in grasses under a fence.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Pantherophis obsoletus
Description
The western ratsnake, a glossy black snake, is one of Missouri’s largest and most familiar snakes. Its size and dark color make it seem imposing, but it is as harmless to humans as it is bad news for rodents!
Media
Image of a lined snake
Species Types
Scientific Name
Tropidoclonion lineatum
Description
The small, secretive lined snake looks similar to a gartersnake. It is mainly brown to grayish brown, with three lighter-colored stripes down the length of its body and a distinctive double row of half-moon-shaped markings along the belly.
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
Image of a five-lined skink
Species Types
Scientific Name
Plestiodon fasciatus
Description
The common five-lined skink is Missouri's most common skink. Adults are olive or tan with lengthwise stripes. It is often called the blue-tailed skink for the coloration of juveniles.
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.
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.