Field Guide

Reptiles and Amphibians

Showing 1 - 10 of 34 results
Media
Photo of an eastern yellow-bellied racer.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Coluber constrictor flaviventris
Description
The color of eastern yellow-bellied racers is uniform but varies from olive, tan, brown, or blue to nearly black. The belly may be yellow, cream, or light blue gray. This nonvenomous snake occurs nearly statewide.
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
little brown skink
Species Types
Scientific Name
Scincella lateralis
Description
The little brown skink is a ground-dweller with dark brown or black stripes and speckling along the sides. Hiking along a forest trail, you may hear these small lizards scurrying through dead leaves, but you seldom see them.
Media
Image of a northern prairie skink
Species Types
Scientific Name
Plestiodon septentrionalis septentrionalis
Description
There are two subspecies of prairie skinks in Missouri, and they look quite similar. In general, they both have longer tails than all other Missouri skinks. In Missouri, these lizards are rare.
Media
photo of juvenile southern coal skink
Species Types
Scientific Name
Plestiodon anthracinus pluvialis
Description
The southern coal skink is secretive and few people know about it. This lizard has a wide, coal-black line along its sides. During the breeding season males have an orange head.
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
Photo of a northern red-bellied snake on a rock.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Storeria occipitomaculata
Description
The red-bellied snake is one of our smallest snakes. It is generally gray brown or reddish brown on top, bright red or orange below. This harmless species is sometimes mistaken for a young copperhead and needlessly killed.
Media
Photo of a flat-headed snake held in someone’s hands
Species Types
Scientific Name
Tantilla gracilis
Description
The flat-headed snake is Missouri's smallest snake. It is found in the southern half of the state except the far southeastern corner.
Media
Image of a rough earthsnake
Species Types
Scientific Name
Haldea striatula (formerly Virginia striatula)
Description
The rough earthsnake is a small, plain-looking snake of open, rocky woodlands in the Missouri Ozarks. It normally doesn’t exceed 10 inches in length.
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.