American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) sunning itself (Photo by Ginger L. Corbin, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)


The class Reptilia includes turtles, crocodilians, squamates (lizards and snakes), and the tuatara (found only on islands off the coast of New Zealand). Mississippi has eighty-four species of reptiles, including one crocodilian, twenty-nine turtles, forty-one snakes, and thirteen lizards. The crocodilian is the American alligator, formerly endangered but now so abundant in some areas that it is hunted as a game animal. Five of the turtles (the loggerhead, Kemp’s ridley, hawksbill, green, and leatherback sea turtles) are marine species, and they, along with five other turtle species (the black-knobbed, yellow-blotched, and ringed sawbacks; the Alabama redbelly turtle, and the gopher tortoise), are listed as threatened or endangered by state and/or federal wildlife resource agencies. Six of Mississippi’s snakes are venomous, including the cottonmouth, the copperhead, the pygmy rattlesnake, the canebrake rattlesnake, the eastern diamondback rattlesnake, and the coral snake. Four species (the eastern indigo, southern hognose, black pine, and rainbow snakes) are considered threatened or endangered in Mississippi. Twelve of the lizard species that occur in Mississippi are native, while the Mediterranean gecko and brown anole are exotic species that have established breeding populations. Only one lizard species, the mimic glass lizard, is listed as endangered in Mississippi.

Further Reading

  • Renn Lohoefener and Ronald Altig, Mississippi Herpetology (1983)
  • F. Harvey Pough, Robin M. Andrews, John E. Cadle, Martha L. Crump, Alan H. Savitzky, and Kentwood D. Wells, Herpetology (1998)

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Reptiles
  • Author
  • Website Name Mississippi Encyclopedia
  • URL
  • Access Date December 3, 2021
  • Publisher Center for Study of Southern Culture
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update April 15, 2018