American Reptiles List: Pictures & Facts on Reptiles Found in the USA

North American Reptile List with pictures and facts. From the fearsome American crocodile to the chilled-out desert tortoise, America is home to some truly awesome reptiles.

in this list you’ll find pictures and interesting facts about the most amazing reptiles found in North America.

Most of the reptiles in this list are found in the USA, with some also being found in Canada and Mexico. We’ve included common and less familiar species, giving you an excellent overview of reptilian life in the United States and its neighbors.

Did you know that some lizards can squirt blood from their eyes to deter predators? Check out the Texas horned lizard


Discover amazing reptiles from all around the world:


List of American Reptiles With Pictures & Facts

Alligator Snapping Turtle

alligator-snapping-turtle
Alligator Snapping Turtle. Photo by Gary M. Stolz/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Scientific Name: Macrochelys temminckii
  • Conservation Status: Vulnerable
  • Where Found: Southeastern United States

The alligator snapping turtle is the world’s largest freshwater turtle. It can be distinguished from its cousin, the snapping turtle, by its larger size and ridged shell. (The ridges on the shell resemble an alligator’s skin, hence the species’ name.)

On the tip of the alligator snapping turtle’s tongue is a worm-like extension. This is used as bait to lure fish towards the turtle’s powerful jaws.


American Alligator

American alligator
American alligator
  • Scientific Name: Alligator mississippiensis
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern
  • Where Found: Southeastern United States

No list of American reptiles would be compete without the American alligator. The American alligator is the largest of the world’s two alligator species (the other of which is the Chinese alligator). Males can reach up to 15 ft. (4.6m) in length.

It may be king of the alligators, but the American alligator is smaller than the American crocodile, a species with which it shares the southernmost part of its range.

The American alligator can be distinguished from the American crocodile by its darker coloration and blunter snout.

The species is found in freshwater, where it feeds on a wide range of prey, including fish, birds, mammals and other reptiles.


American Crocodile

American Crocodile
American Crocodile
  • Scientific Name: Crocodylus acutus
  • Conservation Status: Vulnerable
  • Where Found: South America, Central America, Florida

The American crocodile is a large crocodile found in northern South America and Central America. The species is also found in southern Florida. Here it shares part of its range with the American alligator.

The American crocodile has pale grey-green skin and a pointed snout. Males typically grow up to 16ft. (4.8 m) in length, but larger individuals do occur.

The species lives in coastal areas and in some rivers. It is found in brackish water (i.e. water that is a mixture of fresh and saltwater) and saltwater. It has a varied diet that includes fish, mammals, reptiles and birds.


Carolina Anole

Carolina Anole
Carolina Anole
  • Scientific Name: Anolis carolinensis
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern
  • Where Found: Southeastern United States

The Carolina anole is a small lizard. It reaches a maximum length of around 8 in (20 cm). It is also known as the American chameleon due to its ability to change color. (This name is misleading as it is not a true chameleon.) The Carolina anole is usually either bright green or brown.

The species is usually found in trees, but is also seen on fences and walls.

The video below shows a Carolina anole changing color:


Common Box Turtle

Common Box Turtle
Common Box Turtle
  • Scientific Name: Terrapene carolina
  • Conservation Status: Vulnerable
  • Where Found: Eastern United States

The common box turtle is also known as the eastern box turtle. Like all box turtles, it has a highly domed carapace (the upper part of the shell) and a plastron (the lower part of the shell that protects the turtle’s undersides) that is hinged. The hinged plastron allows the turtle to close up its shell when threatened.

The common box turtle is found in a wide range of habitats, including forests and grasslands. It will enter water in order to cool down.


Chuckwalla (Common)

Chuckwalla
Chuckwalla
  • Scientific Name: Sauromalus ater
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern
  • Where Found: Southwestern United States, Northwestern Mexico

The chuckwalla is a large desert lizard in the iguana family, Iguanidae. It is found in the Sonoran and Mojave Deserts. Individuals vary in appearance, with most being a dark black, brown or green color. It has loose skin and a blunt tail.

The chuckwalla is harmless to humans. If threatened, it will flee to a rocky crevice. Here it will wedge itself in by inflating its lungs.


Garter Snake (Common)

Garter Snake
Garter Snake
  • Scientific Name: Thamnophis sirtalis
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern
  • Where Found: Most states, less common in the southwest.

The common garter snake is a thin snake with an average length of around 22 in. (55 cm). It usually has three yellow-brown stripes running the length of its body. The background color is brown, often with darker spots.

The common garter snake is found in a variety of habitats, including forests and wetlands. It is commonly found near water.

The species is mildly venomous but not dangerous to humans. Its venom helps it to subdue its prey, and also provides protection from predators.


Copperhead

Copperhead Snake
Copperhead
  • Scientific Name: Agkistrodon contortrix
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern
  • Where Found: Eastern North America

The copperhead is a member of the snake subfamily Crotalinae, otherwise known as the pit vipers. It is usually between 2 and 4.5 ft. (60 to 137 cm) in length. Its color is a coppery-brown, with darker cross-bands along the length of its body.

The copperhead is mainly found in forests and woodlands. The venomous snake is an ambush predator that feeds predominantly on rodents. Its bite, although extremely painful, is rarely fatal to humans.


Cottonmouth

Cottonmouth Snake
Cottonmouth
  • Scientific Name: Agkistrodon piscivorus
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern
  • Where Found: Southeastern United States

Like the copperhead, the cottonmouth is a pit viper. The species also known as the water moccasin. This semiaquatic reptile is found in swamps, streams and lakes.

The species is usually between 2 and 6 ft. (60 to 182 cm) in length. It has a large head and broad body. It is often black in color. Younger snakes can be tan with dark patterns. This coloration can fade with age. The inside of the mouth is white.

This venomous snake has a bite that is potentially (but rarely) fatal to humans.


Desert Tortoise

Desert Tortoise
Desert Tortoise
  • Scientific Name: Gopherus agassizii
  • Conservation Status: Vulnerable
  • Where Found: Southwestern United States, Northwestern Mexico

The desert tortoise is found in the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts. It has a shell length of between 9 and 14.5 in. (23 and 37 cm).

Previously considered to be a single species, the desert has now been split into two species, the Agassiz’s desert tortoise and the Sonoran desert tortoise. Both are slow-moving herbivores (plant-eaters) with front paws that are flattened for digging.


Diamondback Terrapin

Ryan Hagerty [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Diamondback Terrapin. Photo by Ryan Hagerty [Public domain]
  • Scientific Name: Malaclemys terrapin
  • Conservation Status: Near Threatened
  • Where Found: Eastern and southern United States, Bermuda

This small turtle is found from the Florida Keys to Cape Cod, and has one of the largest ranges (the area in which a species is found) of all North American turtles (not including the sea turtles). It is found in brackish (a mixture of fresh and saltwater) coastal waters.

The female diamondback terrapin has a shell length of up to 9.5 in. (24cm), and can be up to twice the size of the male.

The name of the diamondback terrapin refers to the patterns on the upper part of its shell.


Eastern Coral Snake

Eastern Coral Snake
Eastern Coral Snake. Photo by Goldman, Luther C. / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Scientific Name: Micrurus fulvius
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern
  • Where Found: Southeastern United States

The eastern coral snake is a brightly-colored, mid-sized snake. Its body is ringed with red and black bands separated by narrower yellow bands. The species is between 12 and 24 in. (61 and 122 cm) in length. It is found in a variety of habitats including woodlands and rocky hillsides.

The bite of the eastern coral snake is potentially fatal to humans.


Gila Monster

Gila Monster
Gila Monster
  • Scientific Name: Heloderma suspectum
  • Conservation Status: Near Threatened
  • Where Found: Southwestern United States, northwestern Mexico

The Gila monster is the only venomous lizard found in the United States. It has a stout body that is covered in bead-like scales. The coloration is yellow-orange with blotchy black / brown patterns. The tail is short and blunt.

The Gila monster inhabits desert habitats. It uses its venom to capture small vertebrate prey, and will also eat insects and carrion. It is thought that the bright patterns serve as warning coloration to deter predators. Despite its fearsome reputation, bites from this slow-moving reptile are rare and non-fatal to a healthy human.


Texas Horned Lizard

Texas Horned Lizard. Photo by Ben Goodwyn [CC BY 2.5]
  • Scientific Name: Phrynosoma cornutum
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern
  • Where Found: Southwestern United States, Northern Mexico

The Texas horned lizard is the largest of the 22 currently-recognized species of horned lizards. Lizards in this genus are often referred to misleadingly as horny toads due to their toad-like appearance.

The flattened, rounded body of the Texas horned lizard is gray or yellow / red-brown. The back and tail are covered with rows of sharp, spine-like scales. The head is protected with horns that contain bone.

If threatened, the Texas horned lizard is able to squirt blood from its eyes. This not only startles potential predators, but the blood itself is also foul-tasting to canines and felines.


Racer Snake (Eastern)

eastern racer snake
By Jrtayloriv [CC BY-SA 3.0]
  • Scientific Name: Coluber constrictor
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern
  • Where Found: United States, Southern Canada, Northern Mexico

Found throughout much of the United States, the racer snake earned its name by being fast moving and agile. The species reaches around 60 in. (152 cm) in length. Color varies between the several subspecies.

The racer snake is non-venomous. It is usually found grassland habitats, but is also common in suburban habitats.


Ribbon Snake

Ribbon Snake.
Ribbon Snake. Photo by Ande9174 at English Wikipedia [Public domain]
  • Scientific Name: Thamnophis sauritus
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern
  • Where Found: Eastern North United States, southern Canada

The ribbon snake is a species of garter snake. It is a thin snake that reaches no more than 3 ft. (91 cm). Three yellow strips run along the length of its dark body.

The ribbon snake is only mildly venomous and is not a threat to humans. The species is often kept as a pet. In the wild, it feeds mainly on invertebrates such as insects and worms.


Slender Glass Lizard

Slender Glass Lizard
By Don Becker [CC BY-SA 3.0]
  • Scientific Name: Ophisaurus attenuatus
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern
  • Where Found: Eastern United States

The slender glass lizard is a legless lizard that moves in a similar way to snakes. It is found in grasslands and woodlands and is often seen on roads.

If caught by a predator, the slender glass lizard has the ability to shed part of its tail. This remains moving even when parted from the body.


Stinkpot (Common Musk Turtle)

Stinkpot_Turtle
Stinkpot Turtle. Photo by Ontley [CC BY-SA 3.0], from Wikimedia Commons
  • Scientific Name: Sternotherus odoratus
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern
  • Where Found: Eastern United States, southeastern Canada

The stinkpot is a small turtle found throughout much of eastern North America. It reaches a maximum shell length of around 5.5 in. (14 cm). Its shell is smooth and highly domed. A pale stripe runs along either side of the head.

The stinkpot spends most of its life in the water. It inhabits creeks, streams and ponds. If threatened, the stinkpot secretes a foul-smelling yellowish substance.


Western Banded Gecko

Banded Gecko
By Connor Long [CC BY-SA 4.0]
  • Scientific Name: Coleonyx variegatus
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern
  • Where Found: Southwestern United States, Northern Mexico

This small lizard is found in dry desert, grassland and rocky habitats. It is a pale yellow-brown color, with darker stripes and spots.

The western banded gecko is nocturnal, and feeds on insects and spiders. If threatened it curls its tail over its back to resemble a scorpion. It is also capable of shedding its tail as a decoy if captured by a predator.


Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake
Western Diamondback Rattlesnake
  • Scientific Name: Crotalus atrox
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern
  • Where Found: Southwestern United States, Mexico.

The western diamondback rattlesnake is a venomous snake found in dry grasslands, deserts, and rocky areas. It is grey-brown in color. Along its body are a series of darker diamond-shaped patches with pale borders. Around its tail are several alternating black and white rings.

Like other rattlesnakes, the western diamondback rattlesnake will shake its ‘rattle’ – a group of dry scales on the tip of its tail – if threatened. This results in a rattling warning sound.

The bite of the western diamondback rattlesnake is potentially fatal to humans.


American Reptiles List: Conclusion

We hope that you have enjoyed finding out about some of the many amazing reptiles that live in North America.

You can find out more about reptiles on the following pages:

Discover more about the animal kingdom:

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