• Are vertebrates. They have an internal bony skeleton.
  • Are cold-blooded. They cannot maintain their body temperature by internal means.
  • Have a dry, scaly skin or a shell.
  • Lay eggs with a tough outer shell, or have live birth. The eggs have an internal membrane called the amnion, which helps protect the developing embryo from injury and drying out. In some species of snakes, the eggs hatch internally and the young are born live
  • Lay their eggs on land.
  • Have claws on their toes (except snakes).

Currently, there are about 6,500 recognized species of reptiles in the world, divided into 5 living orders. Within Kansas, 71 species are recorded from 16 families in 3 orders.

Classification of living organisms has undergone a profound revolution within the last thirty years due to the advent of DNA analysis and the new taxonomic discipline of cladistics, which does not necessarily use the classical Linnean hierarchy (Kingdom-Phylum-Class-Order-Family-Genus-Species) to sort out how creatures are related to each other.  The position of turtles, for instance, is a contentious issue currently, and crocodiles have been found to have more in common genetically with birds than with lizards.

Check out the Snake's Burrow for more information about Kansas snakes.



Official State Reptile of Kansas

The ornate box turtle prefers prairies and pastures over forest; it is found from South Dakota to southern Arizona and the Rio Grande valley (the Mississippi river generally marks the eastern boundary of its range). It is illegal in Kansas to take turtles from the wild to keep as pets.

List of Kansas Reptiles

The species list below is based on "A Checklist of the Vertebrate Animals of Kansas", 3rd edition, 2005, by George Potts and Joseph Collins. This publication is available from the Kansas University Natural History Museum, 1345 Jayhawk Blvd., Lawrence, KS 66045-7163.

LIzards (15 Species in Kansas)

Family Crotaphytidae - Collared Lizards
Eastern Collared Lizard - Crotaphytus collaris

Family Phrynosomatidae - Prairie, Earless & Horned Lizards
Lesser Earless Lizard - Holbrookia maculata
Texas Horned Lizard - Phrynosoma cornutum
Prairie Lizard - Sceloporus consobrinus

Family Scincidae - Skinks
Coal Skink - Eumeces anthracinus
Five-lined Skink - Eumeces fasciatus
Broadhead Skink - Eumeces laticeps
Great Plains Skink - Eumeces obsoletus
Southern Prairie Skink - Eumeces obtusirostris
Northern Prairie Skink - Eumeces septentrionalis
Ground Skink - Scincella lateralis

Family Lacertidae - Wall Lizards
Western Green Lacerta - Lacerta bilineata
Italian Wall Lizard - Podarcis sicula

Family Teiidae - Whiptails
Six-lined Racerunner - Aspidoscelis sexlineata

Family Anguidae - Glass Lizards
Western Slender Glass Lizard - Ophisaurus attenuatus

Snakes (38 Species in Kansas)

For even more information about snakes then go check out The Snake's Burrow!

Family Leptotyphlopidae - Slender Blind Snakes
New Mexico Blind Snake - Leptotyphlops dissectis

Family Colubridae - Harmless Egg-laying Snakes
Eastern Glossy Snake - Arizona elegans
Eastern Racer - Coluber constrictor
Prairie Kingsnake - Lampropeltis calligaster
Common Kingsnake - Lampropeltis getula
Milk Snake - Lampropeltis triangulum
Coachwhip - Masticophis flagellum
Rough Green Snake - Opheodrys aestivus
Great Plains Rat Snake - Pantherophis emoryi
Western Rat Snake - Pantherophis obsoletus
Gopher Snake - Pituophis catenifer
Longnose Snake - Rhinocheilus lecontei
Ground Snake - Sonora semiannulata
Flathead Snake - Tantilla gracilis
Plains Blackhead Snake - Tantilla nigriceps

Family Dipsadidae - Slender Rear-fanged Snakes
Western Worm Snake - Carphophis vermis
Ringneck Snake - Diadophis punctatus
Chihuahuan Night Snake - Hypsiglena torquata

Family Natricidae - Harmless Live-bearing Snakes
Plainbelly Water Snake - Nerodia erythrogaster
Diamondback Water Snake - Nerodia rhombifer
Northern Water Snake - Nerodia sipedon
Graham's Crayfish Snake - Regina grahamii
Brown Snake - Storeria dekayi
Redbelly Snake - Storeria occipitomaculata
Checkered Garter Snake - Thamnophis marcianus
Western Ribbon Snake - Thamnophis proximus
Plains Garter Snake - Thamnophis radix
Common Garter Snake - Thamnophis sirtalis
Lined Snake - Tropidoclonion lineatum
Rough Earth Snake - Virginia striatula
Smooth Earth Snake - Virginia valeriae

Family Xenodontidae - Robust Rear-fanged Snakes
Western Hognose Snake - Heterodon nasicus
Eastern Hognose Snake - Heterodon platirhinos

Family Crotalidae - Pit Vipers
Copperhead - Agkistrodon contortrix
Cottonmouth - Agkistrodon piscivorus
Timber Rattlesnake - Crotalus horridus
Prairie Rattlesnake - Crotalus viridis
Massasauga - Sistrurus catenatus

Turtles (15 Species in Kansas)

Family Chelydridae - Snapping Turtles
Common Snapping Turtle Chelydra serpentina
Alligator Snapping Turtle - Macrochelys temminckii

Family Kinosternidae - Mud & Musk Turtles
Yellow Mud Turtle - Kinosternon flavescens
Common Musk Turtle - Sternotherus odoratus

Family Emydidae - Box & Basking Turtles
Northern Painted Turtle - Chrysemys picta
Common Map Turtle - Graptemys geographica
Ouachita Map Turtle - Graptemys ouachitensis
False Map Turtle - Graptemys pseudogeographica
River Cooter - Pseudemys concinna
Eastern Box Turtle - Terrapene carolina
Ornate Box Turtle - Terrapene ornata
Pond Slider - Trachemys scripta

Family Trionychidae - Softshell Turtles
Smooth Softshell - Apalone mutica
Spiny Softshell - Apalone spinifera

For More Information about Reptiles

Tree of Life shows how cladistic analysis presents the classification of animals.

Kansas Herpetofaunal Atlas

If you have a strong interest in Great Plains reptiles, you may wish to join the Kansas Herpetological Society