- 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, 67 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.
DID YOU KNOW?
THE ORNATE BOX TURTLE
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.
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
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 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 Crotalidae - Pit Vipers
Copperhead - Agkistrodon contortrix
Cottonmouth - Agkistrodon piscivorus
Timber Rattlesnake - Crotalus horridus
Prairie Rattlesnake - Crotalus viridis
Massasauga - Sistrurus catenatus
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