Glossary Of Terms
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Ad hoc without proof
Adjunct aid
Agonistic aggressive, combative
Ambient external, outside
Anomaly; anomalies abnormalities, birth defects
Anorexia loss of appetite
Anterior front or front portion
Anthropomorphic attributing human qualities or emotions animals
Apposition  in contact
Aquatic water inhabiting
Arachnids class of invertebrates that includes mites and ticks
Arboreal tree dwelling
Aspiration to withdraw or suck out
Asymptomatic showing no symptoms
Autohemorrage self-induced bleeding
Bacteristatic able to inhibit but not kill bacteria
Basking resting in an area of heat or light
Biennial every two years
Bifurcated forked
Binomial name consisting of two parts, e.g., genus name and species name
Biological clock an internal biological rhythm which is responsible for periodic changes in an animal’s behavior
Boidae taxonomic family of snakes that includes the boas and pythons
Boids Snakes of the family Boidae; boas and pythons
Breeding trials introducing males and females together for the purpose of breeding
Brumation a period of prolonged cool temperature without actual hibernation
Canopy closed screen of top most branches over the forest floor
Capsule membrane enveloping another structure
Caudally towards the tail
Cervical pertaining to the neck
Cline; clinal variant gradual change of a variable characteristic over a given geographic area
CITES Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species
Cloaca common chamber into which digestive, urinary and reproductive systems empty
Cold-blooded referring to animal whose metabolism and body temperature are dependent on environmental/outside heat sources
Combat competition between males for dominance and breeding rights
Communal referring to a community of several individuals
Congenital present at birth
Conspecifics member of the same species
Constrictor snake which kills its prey by enveloping it within muscular constricting coils of its body
Contagious capable of being transferred from individual to another
Copulate; copulation to have sexual intercourse
Core temperature temperature within the body
Cranial pertaining to the skull
Crepuscular active at sunset or sunrise
Cryptic Camouflaged or concealed
Cyanomorph a color phase in which the dominant color is blue
Debilitate to make weak or feeble; enervate
Deciduous a falling out (as of teeth) at a given season or age
Defecation the act of eliminating waste from the cloaca
Dehydration excessive loss of body fluids/water
Dichromatism (sexual) an obvious color difference between sexes of the same species
Dimorphic morphological differences between members of the same species (colors or pattern phases)
Disinfection killing microorganisms
Distention swelling
Diurnal active by day
Dominant trait that is expressed by a single gene (i.e., when the gene is contributed by only one parent)
Dorsal pertaining to the upper surface
Dorso-lateral the upper sides
Dorsum the back, or upper surface, of a snake
Double clutching producing two clutches in less than one year.  Applies to pythons and boas, even though clutch refers to eggs
Dysecdysis incomplete or improper shedding
Dystocia difficulty in delivering eggs or young
Ecdysis shedding the skin
Ecology the study of organisms in relation to their environment
Ectoparasite external parasites, such as mites and fleas
Ecosystem the complete system of living organisms and non-living elements that interact together in a specific area
Ectothermic cold blooded, dependent upon external source of heat
Electro ejaculation collection of sperm by the use of a mild electric current
Electrolytes any substance that breaks down to form ions in solutions then capable of conducting electrical impulses
Emaciated abnormally lean through starvation or disease
Embryo the earliest stage of a developing fertilized egg that will eventually become offspring
Embryonic sac the membrane-like covering in which the embryo/fetus develops
Endemic confined to/found in one geographic area (usually small)
Endoparasites internal parasites, such as protozoans or worms
Entrails the internal organs
Epidermal pertaining to the skin
Equilibrate become equal
Erythritic; erythristic a color phase in which the dominant color is red
Estivate become dormant during the summer or dry season
Ethological relating to behavior
Euthanized killed in a humane manner
Evolution (parallel or convergent) the phenomenon of two unrelated species confined to two distinct geographical areas developing similar or identical morphological characteristics and habits as a result of exploiting similar or identical habitats
Exogenous coming from outside the animal
Exsanguinate bleed to death
Eye cap clear, curved scale that protects a snakes eyes
Facultative producing disease only when immunity is suppressed/reduced
Family group of related animals ranked above a genus and below an order
Fast to eat very little or nothing
Fauna all animal life of a region, period, habitat or environment
Feces solid waste excreted from the bowel
Fertility the ability to conceive offspring
Fertilization impregnation by male germ/sperm cell
Fetal wastage loss of apparently viable eggs or fetus
Fetus the developing young in the later stages of development until the time of birth
Fixed a gene is fixed when it becomes present in all members of a population
Flagella; flagellae tail-like structure on microorganisms and sperm used for propelling the organism
Follicle the structure in the ovary which contains the developing ovum
Fossorial adapted to burrowing
Founders the original specimens in a breeding group
Full spectrum light light closely imitating sunlight, including ultraviolet wavelengths important to many reptiles
Fuzzies newborn rodents that have just begun to grow hair
Gene chemical unit of heredity responsible for producing specific traits in the developing offspring
Generation time the time required for a generation of neonates to grow to sexual maturity and reproduce
Genotype the genetic composition of an animal or plant
Genus group of related species, which may be divided into subordinate species; normally the first word in a scientific name
Germinal reproductive
Gestation period in which eggs or neonates develop within the body of the female
Gradient range or gradual change, such as a temperature gradient from warm to cool
Gravid pregnant with eggs or young
Gular (skin) pertaining to the throat
Habitat natural residence of an organism
Helminthes a parasitic worm inhabiting the digestive, respiratory or circulatory system of an animal
Hemipenis; hemipenes one of the paired sexual organs of male snakes and lizards
Heredity the genetic transmission of a particular trait from parent to offspring
Herpetoculture hobby; business of keeping reptiles and/or amphibians
Herpetology the study of reptiles and amphibians
Heterogeneity not having pure genes for a trait (i.e., a snake that is heterogeneous for albinism looks normal, but carries one gene for albinism)
Heterozygous having a gene for a trait on both chromosomes
Hibernation dormancy during winter or the cool season
Homozygous carrying pure genes for a given trait
Humidity the mount of moisture in the environment
Husbandry management or care of living things
Hydration the absorption of water by the body
Imbricate (scales) to overlap
Impaction wedged in firmly; overloading an internal organ such as the intestine; inability of eggs to move through the reproductive tract
Incandescent bulb bulb that emits light and heat from an electrical current applied to a metal filament within the bulb
Incubation process through which eggs are heated until the offspring hatch
Infertility inability to produce offspring
Interstitial (skin) between the scales
Insular found on islands
In utero in the uterus
Invaginated inverted
Involution regression and eventual disappearance
Jacobson’s organ sensory organ located in the palate where airborne particles are transferred from the tongue for identification
Juvenile young animal
Karyotype the number and types of chromosomes for a specific taxon
Keeled ridged; usually applies to dorsal scales
Keratin the dead, horny, relatively inflexible skin of which scales are made of
Labial pertaining to the scales bordering the mouth/lips
Lateral pertaining to the sides
Lesion injury/breakage of the skin
Leucistic absence of all color (white)
Lethargy; lethargic dull, lifeless, weak
Lithified Literally, turned to stone; becoming hardened
Lukewarm water warm to the touch; approximately 70-80 degrees
Lumen opening
Malnutrition state of receiving faulty or inadequate nutrition
Mandible lower jaw
Maxilla upper jaw
Maxillary pertaining to the upper jaw
Metabolism chemical and physical process involved in the breakdown of food in to energy; development; development of stores of chemicals within the body for use during growth and development of tissues
Metabolic rate rate in which ingested food is broken down and converted into energy
Microhabitat small, localized areas within a habitat where conditions may vary from those of the larger habitat
Mimicry one animal imitating the coloration or actions of another
Miscarriage loss of offspring from the female before they are able to independently survive
Mite tiny blood-sucking external parasite
Monotypic Genus genus possessing a single species
Morbidity illness or disease
Morph inheritable color or pattern variation; phase
Morphology the study of the structure of animals and plants
Mucous membrane passages connecting to the outside openings in which the lining is composed of cells that produce mucous; oral cavity, air passages, upper digestive tract, etc.
Nares nostrils
Necropsy post mortem examination
Necrosis/Necrotic death of individual/groups of cells; specific areas of tissue
Neonate; neonatal newborn
Neo-tropical tropical areas of the New World, e.g., the Americas
New World North, Central and South America
Non-dominant (recessive) a trait that is expressed only if both parents transmit the gene, i.e., when it is homozygous
Nocturnal active at night
Nodule lesion that appears as a small lump or knot
Nomenclature a system of names used in a specific branch of knowledge, e.g., zoology
Nominate (race) the first defined of a species upon which subspecies are based
Occult hidden; not apparent, without symptoms
Ocellus; ocelli circular or eye-like markings
Old World continents of Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia
Ontogenetic pertaining to the life history of an organism
Oocyte egg that has not yet reached full development
Oogenisis the process of forming eggs in the ovary
Opaque/opacity cloudy; preparing to shed
Ophidian a snake, or relating to a snake
Ophiophagus feed primarily on snakes
Organogenisis the formation of organs in the embryo
Oviparous egg laying
Oviposition laying eggs
Ovoviviparous having non-shelled eggs which hatch internally of the female; the term is often replaced by viviparous, which implies the presence of a rudimentary placenta in reptiles
Ovulation release of mature ova
Ovum; ova an egg, in both pythons and boas, whether fertilized or not, is an ovum
Parasite an organism deriving its nourishment from another
Parasite loading build-up of internal or external parasites resulting from confinement
Parthenogenetic reproduction without males
Particulate made of particles
Parrelism development of two similar species from different ancestors
Parturition giving birth
Pelvic spurs visible remnants of the hind legs located on either side of the vent in Boids and a few other snakes
Perinatal occurring shortly before, during or after birth
Peristaltic; peristalsis rhythmic muscular contractions
Peritonitis infection of the abdominal cavity (coelem in reptiles)
Phase inheritable pattern or color variation; morph
Phenotype; phenotypic the external appearance of an organism
Pheromone a chemical, which is released by one sex that attracts the other sex
Photoperiod period of light and dark within a 24-hour period
Pinkies newborn rodents without hair
Plasticity adaptability; variability; flexibility
Posterior at or toward the rear or end
Post-hoc occurring after an event, rather than because of an event
Post ocular behind the eye
Post-partum; Post parturient after giving birth
Post-term after the due date, or after the term
Progressive increasing
Prehensile adapted for/capable of grasping
Pre-term before the due date, or before term
Prey animal that is caught/devoured by another for food/energy
Probing technique used to determine the sex of snakes involving insertion of a blunt probe into the internal sheath containing the reproductive organs at the base of the tail
Procryptic camouflaging colors and/or patterns
Prolapse fall out
Propagation reproduction; to multiply by breeding
Provenance the history of a specimen; its origin, its parents and owners
Quarantine period of isolation and observation for new animals to prevent the introduction of parasites into a healthy, established collection
Rafting breaking off of a tree, land mass or other floating object that carries plants or animals to a different location along a river
Recalcitrant stubborn; difficult
Recessive a trait that is expressed only if the gene is transmitted from both parents, or homozygous
Recrudescence reappearance or re-growth
Regurgitate vomit partially digested stomach contents
Rejuvenate replenish; return to a normal state
Relict left behind, isolated, a survivor
Respire breath
Rhomb diamond shaped
Ringer’s solution a mixture of water and chemicals similar to a blood serum
Riverine living on or near a riverbank or river
Rodent Mouse, rat, etc; gnawing animals commonly fed to Boids
Rostral (shield) scale at the tip of the snout
Rugose wrinkled
Saddle the blotches on the dorsum of boa constrictors
Sanitize to make clean/healthy by washing, disinfecting, sterilizing
Scute external bony or horny plate/ventral scale
Semipermeable permeable to some substances but not others
Sequelae permanent damage or affects
Sexing determining the sex of an individual
Sheath tubular envelope of tissue containing a body part or organ
Sperm male reproductive cells that fertilize an egg during copulation
Spermatogenesis development of sperm
Sphagnum moss bog or peat moss used for moisture retention
Spurs small claws, remnants of hind limbs, present on both sides of the cloaca in many of the boas and pythons
Ssp subspecies
Sterile no reproductive power; free from microorganisms
Stomatitis infection of the mouth
Stress biological changes that occur as a result of adverse external influences
Striping the presence of stripes in the pattern
Subcaudals scales on the ventral surface between the vent and the tip of the tail
Subcutaneous; subdermal beneath the skin
Sublingual below or beneath the tongue
Subocular below the eye
Subspecies a variety or subdivision of a species
Substrate material used for the bottom of a cage
Subterranean an existence beneath the ground
Supralabial one of the several scales on the upper lip
Supraocular scale(s) above the eye
Supraorbital above the eyes
Sympatric two or more populations that coexist in the same geographic region
Syndrome a group of symptoms or abnormalities occurring together
Synonymy; synonomous the correct and incorrect technical names which have been collectively used by various systematists to designate a given species
Taxon; Taxa a specific species or subspecies of a living organism
Taxonomy the science of classifying organisms
Temperate having a well defined seasonal variation in temperature
Teratogenic causing birth defects
Terrestrial ground dwelling
Testosterone a male sex hormone
Thermoreceptor device or organ sensitive to heat or fluctuations in temperature
Thermoregulate to control temperature
Topical refers to a particular area; substance applied to a specific area of skin which affects the area it is applied to
Tractable tame; handleable
Transient temporary
Trauma wound; injury
Trinomial referring to a three part technical name, e.g., genus, species, subspecies
Tubercles small, knob like prominence or knob
Vectors organisms capable of transmitting parasites or disease causing organisms
Vent anal or cloacal opening in reptiles
Venter refers to the lower/under surface of the body
Ventral pertaining to the lower or abdominal surface
Vestigial remnant of a structure that functioned in a previous stage of individual or species development
Vitellogenesis formation of the yolk of the egg
Vivarium container or enclosure for housing reptiles and amphibians
Viviparous giving birth to live young
Xanthic a color morph in which the dominant color is yellow
Xeric hot and dry conditions


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