Arkansas is rich with various types of flora and fauna, including several species of reptiles representing various families and genera. The largest reptile in the state is the American alligator, which inhabits the southeastern half of the state. Lizards, snakes and turtles make up the remaining species of Arkansas reptiles.
Among Arkansas' reptiles are several turtle species, ranging from aquatic to land-preferring. The large, primitive and prehistoric-looking alligator snapping turtle is one of the species that calls Arkansas home, along with its close relative the snapping turtle. Other turtle species include the familiar pond turtles, the red-eared slider and painted turtle. These two species are common in pet stores worldwide. The land-dwelling, tortoiselike eastern and ornate box turtles also inhabit the state. Chicken turtles, bottom-dwelling musk and mud turtles, cooters and the flat, flapjack-shaped softshells also call Arkansas home.
Six species of venomous snakes reside in Arkansas. Five of the six venomous species are members of the pit viper family (Crotalinae): southern copperhead, western cottonmouth, timber rattlesnake, western diamond-backed rattlesnake and western pigmy rattlesnake. The Texas coral snake is a relative of cobras and a member of Elapidae. Pit vipers are distinguished by large, triangular-shaped heads, elliptical pupils, heat-sensing pits behind their nostrils and large, hinged fangs. Rattlesnakes possess rattle-like tails that shake when threatened.
The 30 other species of snakes that aren't venomous range from the wormlike, flat-headed snake to the ratsnake, which can reach up to 8 feet long. Several water snakes live in various wet habitats and include the broad-banded, plainbelly and Mississippi green water snakes. Both scarlet and milk snakes are easily confused with the Texas coral snake because of their red, black and yellow patterns, although they're harmless and the patterns vary.
Most of Arkansas' native lizards inhabit the prairie lands throughout the state. Several skinks call Arkansas home, including common five-lined skinks and the little brown skink. The Texas horned lizard and prairie lizard represent the spiny lizard family; the western slender glass lizard is a legless species living in Arkansas. Other species include the anole and prairie racerunner.
With a professional background in gardening, landscapes, pests and natural ecosystems, Jasey Kelly has been sharing her knowledge through writing since 2009 and has served as an expert writer in these fields. Kelly's background also includes childcare, and animal rescue and care.