Field Guide

Reptiles and Amphibians

Showing 1 - 10 of 58 results
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Image of a yellow-bellied watersnake
Species Types
Scientific Name
Nerodia erythrogaster
Description
The plain-bellied watersnake is a medium-sized, heavy-bodied, dark-colored, semiaquatic snake with a plain yellow belly. It is found throughout southeastern Missouri and north along the Mississippi River floodplain.
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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.
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Image of graham's crayfish snake
Species Types
Scientific Name
Regina grahamii
Description
Graham's crawfish snake is a medium-sized, dull-colored, semiaquatic snake known from prairie streams, marshes, and ponds. Like most other snakes associated with water, it is often misidentified as a cottonmouth and needlessly killed.
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.
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Image of a spotted salamander
Species Types
Scientific Name
Ambystoma maculatum
Description
The spotted salamander is one of Missouri's six species of mole salamanders. It is slate black with two irregular rows of rounded yellow spots from the head onto the tail. It occurs in forests in the southern two-thirds of the state.
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Photo of a small-mouthed salamander.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Ambystoma texanum
Description
The small-mouthed salamander is a medium-sized, dark gray to black or dark brown salamander with a small head and mouth. In Missouri, it’s found nearly statewide — but not in the Ozarks.
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Photo of a Frank Nelson Mole salamander in its natural habitat.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Ambystoma talpoideum
Description
The mole salamander is broad-headed, dull gray or brown, with a small body and tail and large limbs. It is spends almost all its time below ground. In Missouri, it is restricted to the lowlands of our southeastern counties.
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.