Terms and Definitions


50% Possible Het: When a normal or wild type animal is bred to a heterozygous animal, approximately 50% of the resulting offspring can be predicted to be heterozygous for the given trait.

66 % Possible Het: When two heterozygous animals are bred together, it can be predicted that 50% of the offspring will be heterozygous, 25% homozygous, and 25% wild type. Of the normal appearing offspring, 66% (or roughly 2 out of 3) can be predicted to actually be heterozygous for the given trait.






Aberrent/Atypical: Term used to describe a variance or difference to a given standard. Usually used in reference to unusual or differing color and/or pattern in reptiles and amphibians.

Abiotic Factor: Any non living or inanimate component to an environment.

Artificial cover. Term used in field herping in reference to sheet metal, trash piles, or any other artificial or manmade object or structure that attracts and provides shelter for rodents, which in turn provides shelter and food for snakes and many other animals.

Veterinary terminology for an infestation or presence of mites and ticks. Ack-a-ria-sis


Ackie: Ridge tailed Monitors, Varanus acanthurus. Ack-ee


Aculeus: A modified ovipositor, or stinger of many insects and arachnids.

Adaptation: A trait, feature, or characteristic that enables an animal to cope or survive in its environment.


Afrock: African Rock python (Python sebae and natalensis). Af-rock


Agamid: Any member of the large and diverse group of herbivorous or omnivorous lizards known as Agamidae, often characterized by spiny skin or scales. Includes bearded dragons, frilled dragons, uromastyx, and water dragons. A-gom-id

Aglyphic: Describes the skull and dentition of a snake that lacks fangs or venom such as boas, pythons, and many colubrids. Ag-lee-fic


Allele: One of two or more forms of a gene found on a chromosome. Al-eel

Allopatric: The most common form of speciation where new species develop over time due to geographic isolation.


Alterna: Gray banded Kingsnake, Lampropeltis alterna. Al-turn-a


Amblypygid: Greek meaning “blunt rump”. Any member of the order of arachnids also commonly known as the whip spiders or tailless whip scorpions.

Amelanistic (Amel): Lacking black pigment in the skin known as melanin. Often used interchangeably with Albino or Albinism. A-mel-an-istic


Amniote/Amniotic Egg: Any group of terrestrial vertebrate animals that lay eggs characterized with having an amniotic fluid or membrane. All birds, reptiles, and egg laying mammals lay amniotic eggs. Am-nee-oat/Am-nee-oat-ic


Amphibian: Any ectothermic vertebrate animal that is characterized as having (usually) smooth, moist skin, and at least one or more aquatic life stages-i.e. tadpoles, larvae, and which belongs to the class Amphibia. Includes all frogs, toads, newts, salamanders, and caecilians. Am-fib-be-in


Amphisbaenia: Worm lizards; A suborder of legless reptiles found mainly in the tropics that often resemble earthworms or blind snakes, and are characterized by their elongate and (usually) limbless worm or snake like bodies, annulated ring like scales, and rudimentary eyes. Am-phis-be-ania


Amphiuma: A genus of elongate, nearly limbless eel like aquatic salamanders found in Southern United States characterized by two pairs of tiny, vestigial limbs. Also known as the Congo eels. Am-phi-u-ma


Amplexus: The state of copulation in frogs and toads. Am-plex-iss

Anaconda: Species of large to very large aquatic to semi aquatic boas found in South America. Genus Eunectes. You-nect-ees


Anal plate/scale: The ventral scale covering the vent and cloaca that may be divided or undivided depending on the genera or species and often used in identification.


Anamniote/Anamniotic Eggs: A group of aquatic vertebrate animals which lay their eggs in water. Anamniotic eggs are usually laid in a gelatinous mass in the water and have a cleaand  permeable surface allowing the absorption and diffusion of oxygen and waste products. Includes all fish and amphibians. Also called Frogspawn. Anam-nee-oat/oatic


Anaphylaxis: A severe allergic reaction in response to a venomous animal bite or sting characterized by rapid onset and possibility of death. Ana-full-lax-iss


Anapsid: A group of animals that lack or have lost the openings on each side of the skull known as Temporal Fenestra from at least one point in time or another in their ancestral history. All turtles, tortoises, and terrapins are anapsids. An-ap-sid

Anchoring: Term used to describe the process by which an animal better holds on or secures itself through use of a prehensile tail or other means.


Anemic: A state characterized by a loss of or lack of blood; i.e. red blood cells or hemoglobin and caused by heavy infestations of parasites, or other illness and disease. A-nee-mic/A-nee-mia


Anerytheristic (Anery): Lacking red pigment in the skin. Anery-ther-istic


Annuli: The growth rings on the carapace scutes of turtles, tortoises, and terrapins that can be used to determine the animal’s approximate or minimum age. Ann-u-lie


Anole: Any member of the very large and diverse group of tropical to sub tropical lizards of the Americas, West Indies, and Caribbean belonging to the family Polychrotidae that typically have a brightly colored dewlap, or throat fan used in courtship and territorial displays and some color changing abilities. A-nol

Anterior: Refers to the front half of the body.


Anti venom/Anti venin: Serum using cultured antibodies used in counteracting or medical treatment of venomous snake bites. Anti venom can be monovalent or polyvalent. Anti-ven-een


Anuran: Used to describe or reference any amphibian of the order Anura; which include all frogs and toads. A-nur-in


AOR: Alive on road.

Apex Predator: A predator that is at the top of a tropic food chain, having very few to no predators itself.


Aposematic Coloration: Used to describe a species that is brightly colored to warn predators of actual or potential toxicity. I.e. poison dart frogs. Ah-pose-matic


Aquatic: Any species whose primarily lifestyle involves living in water. A-quat-ic


Arachnid: Any invertebrate member of the joint legged arthropods characterized by having eight legs, and lack wings and antennae. Includes all spiders, tarantulas, ticks, mites, scorpions, vinagaroons, and whip scorpions. A-rack-nid


Arboreal: Used to describe any animal whose primary lifestyle involves climbing and living in trees; tree dwelling. Are-bore-e-ul


Artificial Cover (AC): Any artificial or manmade structure or debris that is discarded into an environment and attracts/provides hospitable food and refuge for reptiles and amphibians.

Asexual: An organism that is capable of reproducing without a mate.


ASF/ASFR: African Soft fur rat.

Asymptomatic: Characteristic of a disease or condition in which no visible or outward signs or symptoms are presented.


ATB: Amazon tree boa (Corallus hortulanus).

Attrition: The process or action of slowly and gradually reducing populations of an invasive and/or nonnative species in an environment over time through natural or unnatural means.


Autosome: Any chromosome other than a sex chromosome.

Autotrophic: An organism that creates or produces its own nutrients. With the exception of a very few, all plants are autotrophic.


Axanthic: Lacking yellow pigment in the skin. A-xan-thick


Axolotl: Mexican Salamander (Ambystoma mexicanum). A species of aquatic, neotenic salamander that retains its juvenile larval features into adulthood, and is found only in and around Mexico City. Axolotls are popular within the U.S. pet industry. Ax-ol-lotl




Ball/BP: Ball python (Python regius).


Basal: Of, pertaining to, located at, or forming a base.


Batesian Mimicry: A form of evolution in which a harmless or non venomous species evolves with coloration and/or patterning that is very similar to a venomous or poisonous species that also occurs in the same area. E.x. scarlet kingsnake and coral snakes. Bat-es-ian mimicry


BCC//BCI/BCO: Former subspecies level designation for the “Boa constrictor” species. Boa constrictor constrictor, and Boa constrictor imperator. Boa constrictor occidentalis (Argentine Boa).


Bd: See Chytrid fungus/Bd.


Bearded/Beardie: Bearded dragon (Pogona vitticeps).


BHB: BHB Enterprises owned by Brian Barczyk.

Bilateral Symmetry: An organism with a body that can be divided into mirror halves (i.e. both sides of the body are symmetrical or identical). All reptiles and amphibians have bilateral symmetry.


Bioactive: Of a substance or material that produces a biological effect or is biologically viable.


Bioaccumulation: The process by which certain animals or other organisms retain chemical pollutants in their cells from their environment.

Biodiversity: Biological diversity in an environment.


Biofilter/Biofiltration: A sanitation and pollution control mechanism often used in aquariums and other aquatic enclosures or setups using living, organic, or biological material to capture, sift, and/or degrade wastes and other pollutants.

Biological Control/Biocontrol: The use of natural means to control or eliminate pests, exotic, or invasive species (i.e. the introduction of a predator species).


Biological Magnification: The concentration of certain chemicals or other substances up a food chain.


Biology: The scientific study of all life and organisms.

Biomass: The total quantity of living organisms in a given region or area.

Biome: Any one of six large ecological areas found worldwide that have common or characteristic plant and animal life. The six biomes are: tundra, coniferous forest, deciduous forest, grassland, tropical forest, and desert.


Biomechanics/Biomechanical: The scientific study of the structure and functions of biological systems through means of their mechanics.

Biosphere/Ecosphere: The regions on the surface, atmosphere, and hydrosphere on Earth where all organisms live.


Biota: A collective term referring to all plant and animal life of a region or time period.

Biotic Factor: Any living (plant, animal, bacteria) component to an environment.

Biotic: A living organism.

Biotic Index: A chart or diagram used to determine water quality illustrating several common invertebrates/organisms associated with each level of water quality, and sometimes include tadpoles and salamander larvae in higher quality levels. See also Environmental Indicator.


Biotic Potential: The capacity of a population of animals or other organisms to increase and reach their numbers or population under optimal conditions.

Bipedal: The locomotive ability to walk on two hind limbs.


Black Pak: Pakistan Black Cobra. The melanistic phase of the Indian or Common Cobra (Naja. naja karachiensis).

Blacksnake: Commonly used common or vernacular name often used in the U.S. in reference to any snake that is black, often larger species such as black racers (Coluber constrictor ssp.) and rat snakes (genus Panthertophis sp.). Also a common name for a genus of highly venomous elapids found in Australia known as Pseudechis sp and consisting of the Australian blacksnakes, Collett’s snakes, and King brown or Mulgas.


Blood: Blood/Short tailed python (Python curtus, brongersmai, and breitensteini).

Bluff Prairie/Goat Prairie: Moderate to steep south, southwest, or west facing prairie hillsides or prairie remnants located primarily within the driftless region of southwestern and western Wisconsin and home to many species of reptiles and amphibians. They are sometimes called”goat” prairies because it is said that only goats can traverse them.


BMPs: Best Management Practices; the widely acknowledged and accepted caging/housing, handling, bite and accident, antivenom acquisition, escape recovery, and husbandry protocols designated for captive care and breeding of a species or taxa; most often used in reference to crocodilians, venomous reptiles, and large constrictors.


Boa: Any small to very large member of the family Boidae found in the United States, Central and South America, or old world, where a distinguishing characteristic of *most* species from pythons is the fact that most boas are ovoviparous. Also a genus of boas consisting of Boa constrictors and Dumeril’s boas found in Central and South America, and Madagascar.


BOI/Fauna: Board of Inquiry; FaunaClassifieds. Used to check and/or discuss buying experiences and reputations of breeders and sellers online.


Boid: Any member of the families Boidae or Pythonidae; Boas and Pythons. Bo-id


Booklung: A type of respiration organ seen in spiders, scorpions, and other arachnids used in atmospheric gas exchange.       


Boomer: Boomslang (Dispholidus typus). A highly venomous, medically significant arboreal colubrid snake found in sub Saharan Africa that feeds on chameleons and other lizards, birds, and rodents.

Boreal: Relating to a northern hemisphere climate characterized by longer winters and shorter, milder summers. Some species of colder tolerant reptiles and amphibians inhabit boreal regions.


Borneo Bateater: Hybrid between a Burmese python (Python bivittatus) and Reticulated python (Python reticulatus).

Bottleneck Effect: The drastic reduction in the genetic variation and/or population size of a species due to environmental events or human induced activities.

Brackish: Used to describe water that is a mixture of freshwater and saltwater.


Braining: A method used to entice juvenile or otherwise reluctant feeders by slicing open the cranial or bodily cavity of a pre killed feeder item, usually rodents.


BRB: Brazilian Rainbow boa (Epicrates cenchira cenchira).


Bredli: Centralian Carpet python (Morelia bredli). Bread-lie


Breed: A stock or lineage of plants or animals with distinctive morphology, physical appearance, or other characteristics usually produced through artificial or selective breeding, but can still be considered the same species. Not to be confused with species.




Bridge: The portion of a turtle, tortoise, or terrapin's shell that connects the carapace to the plastron along the sides.


Brumation: The practice of, or activity by a reptile or amphibian to undergo a drastically reduced period of activity through cooling of temperatures prior to breeding or reproduction, but is not a true state of hibernation. Same as “Cooling”. Brew-mat-ion


Bsal or Bs: Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans. A fungal infection and disease that has resulted in severe salamander population declines accross the Netherlands and Belgium, but has not yet to date been recorded in the U.S.


BTS: Blue tongue Skink (Tiliqua sp.).


Bufotoxin: Any toxin produced or derived from the paratoid glands of toads. Bufo-toxin


Burm: Burmese python (Python bivittatus).


Bushmaster: Genus Lachesis; A genus of large pit vipers found in central and South America belonging to the family Crotlinae that are unique among pit vipers in that they are ovoviviparous.


Button: The single, hardened segment of a rattle found on a neonate rattlesnake.


Buzztail: Rattlesnakes.




Caecilian: Tropical to sub tropical amphibians of the order Gymnophiona characterized by their elongate and limbless wormlike or snakelike bodies and greatly reduced or vestigial eyes, with most species being secretive and fossorial in nature. Ce-seal-ean


Cage Shield: A transparent sheet of acrylic or Plexiglas of varying size or dimensions with a handle attached that can be positioned above or in between a venomous animal or an animal otherwise prone to striking and the person in order to perform minor or routine enclosure maintenance without removing the animal from the enclosure.


Caiman: Any member of the crocodilian subfamily Caimaninae found in central and South America, which bear strong resemblance to crocodiles or alligators. Caimens include the smallest species of currently living crocodilians. Kay-men


Cal King: California Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula californiae).


Candling: A method of determining the fertility of an egg or clutch through use of a pin pointed light source shown through the egg, which is then determined by visibility and transparency of the embryo inside.

Canopy/Emergent Layer: The upper most layer of a tree or forest ecosystem.


Cantil: Central American species of terrestrial pit vipers from the genus Agkistrodon closely related to North American copperheads and cottonmouths. Agkistrodon bilineatus and Agkistrodon taylori. Can-teel


Carapace: The upper, or dorsal half of a turtle, tortoise, or terrapin’s shell. Car-a-pis         


Care Sheet: A brief and summarized written guide or article on captive care and breeding of a specific species or genera covering all aspects including enclosure, dietary needs, temperature/heating/lighting/humidity requirements, reproduction, handling and disposition, etc.


Carnivore/Carnivorous: An animal that feeds primarily on meat or animal matter. Car-niv-or-is/car-ni-vore


Carpondro: Hybrid between a Carpet python (Morelia spilota) and Green Tree python (Morelia viridis). Car-pond-ro


Carrion: Dead or decaying animal matter. Carry-in

Carrying Capacity: The maximum number of individuals within a population that an area can support or accommodate.


Cascavel: Local common name given to any of the Central and South American Rattlesnakes; Crotalus simus and Crotalus durissus. Cas-ca-vel

Cathemeral: An activity pattern seen in an animal or species that is neither primarily diurnal, nocturnal, or crepuscular, or that has an irregular or otherwise no specific pattern of activity during the day or night. Cath-em-er-ill

Caudal Autonomy: The act of dropping or shedding of the tail seen as a defense or escape mechanism in many lizards and salamanders. Many lizards are able to then regenerate their tails within several weeks. Caud-al auto-tomy


Caudal Luring: A sedentary ambush strategy used by many snakes to lure or entice a prey item using a brightly colored or moving tail tip. Caud-al luring


Caudate: Used to describe any amphibian of the order Caudata; all salamanders and newts. Cau-date


CB/CH.: Captive born/bred/hatched.


CBB: Captive bred and born.

Cephalothorax/Prosoma: The anterior segment of arachnids and other arthropods consisting of the head and thorax. Cep-hal-o-thor-axe

Chela/Chelicerae: One or a pair of modified claw or pincer like organs or appendages found on the mouth regions of many arachnids and other arthropods.


Chelonian: Order Chelonia; used in reference to all turtles, tortoises, and terrapins. Chel-own-ian

Chemoreceptor: The olfactory, or sensory organs located within the roof the the mouth and nose that detect airborne chemicals/particles. Kee-mo-re-cep-tors

Chicken Snake: Commonly used common or vernacular name in the Eastern and southern U.S. in reference to any large indigenous snake found in and around chicken coops, namely the Eastern rat snakes (genus Pantherophis sp.).


Chromosome: The heredity bearing gene carrier of a living cell consisting of DNA and other protein components.


Chromatophore: Specialized skin cells containing pigments and light reflecting properties enabling many animals, including some reptiles and amphibians, to have color changing abilities. Chro-mat-o-phore


Chuckwalla: A genus of primarily herbivorous, medium sized lizards belonging to the Iguanidae family found in rocky, arid regions of the Southwestern United States and northern Mexico. Genus Sauromalus. Chuck-walla


Chytrid Fungus/Bd: Fungi from the phylum Chytridiomycota that thrive in wet or moist environments, and are responsible for drastic declines and even extinctions of populations of most amphibian species worldwide. Bd is an abbreviation of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. Kitch-rid.


Circulus: A rarely occurring social structure seen in some reptiles and amphibians where there is interaction, social structure/hierarchy, and/or exchange between individuals.


CITES: Convention on International Trade on Endangered Species. Enacted in 1975, CITES governs the international sale and trade of endangered or protected plants and animals.


Cirri: Short, tubercle like appendages found along the upper jawline of some salamanders. Sir-i


CL: Craigslist.

Clade: A group of organisms that includes their most recent common ancestor and all descendents thereof.


Cladogram: An organized diagram/family tree depicting the relationships between groups of animals. A Clade is a section on the diagram depicting a group with a common ancestor. Clade-o-gram


Clutch: One or more eggs laid by a reptile at a given time.


Coachwhip: Masticophis/Coluber flagellum; A genus of large, active diurnal colubrid snakes found in the southeastern and western United States characterized by the braided appearance of their scales. Ranges from 3 to 7 feet and feeds on lizards, amphibians, rodents, birds, bird eggs, and other snakes.


Co-dominant Trait (Co-dom): A gene or trait amongst a pair that changes an animal’s phenotype even when heterozygous.

Co-Evolution: Interactions or relationships between two or more species that influence how each species survives.


Co-Gener: A member of the same genus, but different species.

Collection: An oftentimes informal and impersonal reference to one or more animals, living or preserved, kept by that individual(s) in captivity by scientists, academia, researchers, hobbyists, or herpetoculturists.


Colubrid: Any of the number of snakes belonging to the extremely large and diverse group of snakes known as Colubridae found worldwide except Antarctica. Includes but is not limited to kingsnakes, milksnakes, garter snakes, gopher and pine snakes, ratsnakes, corn snakes, water snakes, racers, and hognose snakes. Co-lu-brid


Commensalism: A relationship between two or more organisms where one organism benefits, and the other is neither harmed or benefitted. Comm-en-sal-ism


Communal: A characteristic of a species that is gregarious, or is otherwise able to be housed with multiple individuals of the same and/or different species.

Conbio: Conservation Biology; The scientific branch of biology with the aim of protecting and conserving species, their habitats, and ecosystems.


Concertina: A form of locomotion used in snakes where the anterior and posterior portions of the body are alternately stretched and then compressed similar to an accordion. Con-cert-ina.

Coniferous: Trees and shrubs that maintain their leaves or needles throughout the year. Also called Evergreens. Many species of reptiles and amphibians inhabit coniferous environments.


Conservation: The protection and improvement of plants, animals, and other natural resources on Earth.


Conspecific: Refers to two or more members of the same species or subspecies. Con-specific


Convergent Evolution: When two different species that may occur/have evolved in different areas of the world or are not closely related develop similar traits, appearances, habits, and/or lifestyles. I.e. birds and bats that can both fly, Emerald tree boas and Green tree pythons. Con-verge-ent


Copulate: The process by which a male and female engage in sexual intercourse. Cop-u-late


Coqui: The common name for any of the number of species of small frogs endemic to Puerto Rico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean. Genus Eleutherodactylus. Co-key


Corn: Corn snake or Red rat snake (Panthertophis guttata).


Costal Grooves: The noticeable rib like ridges and indentations found along the lateral sides of many genera of salamanders that can be used for identification. Cost-al


Cottonhead/Coppermouth: A hybrid between a copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix) and Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorous).

Countershading: A unique evolutionary trait for both an animal’s dorsal and ventral coloration and/or patterning making the animal less noticeable to more specific predators from above or below.


Cranial Kinesis: The significant movement of skull bones and joints relative to and in relation to one another between the upper and lower jaws. Cranial kinesis is the primary means in which snakes and some other reptiles ingest their food whole.


Crested/Crestie: Crested gecko (Rhacodactylus ciliatus).


Cribo: Large, active members of the colubridae family belonging to the genus Drymarchon found in central and South America, and being closely related to Indigo snakes of the United States. Cree-bo


Crocodilian: Any member of the order Crocodylia, which includes all crocodiles, alligators, caimen, and gharials. Croc-o-dil-ian


Crotalid (Pit Viper): Any member of the subfamily of venomous snakes known as Crotalinae, characterized by visible, heat sensitive labial pits. Includes rattlesnakes, copperheads, cottonmouths, and many other vipers. Most crotalids are characterized by long, hollow, hinged front facing fangs. Cro-ta-lid

Crotalus: Genus of small to large North and South American pit vipers known as the true rattlesnakes. Cro-ta-lis


Cryptic/Camouflage: An animal’s ability to match or blend in with its surroundings and go undetected by predators and prey. Crypt-ic/Cam-ou-flage


Cryptodira: A grouping of turtles characterized by their ability to withdraw their heads and necks in a straight, or regular fashion. Consists of all other turtles and tortoises aside from the sideneck turtles. Crypto-di-ra


Cryptosporidiosis (Crypto): A gastrointestinal disorder that is seen in reptiles characterized by the presence of the parasitic protozoan known as Cryptosporidia that infects the intestional tract and commonly causes mid body swelling. Crypt-o-spore-id-io-sis


Cyto-toxin/Cyto-toxic: Any toxin, or characteristics thereof that destroys, or adversely affects cells in the body. Site-o-toxin




Death Adder: A genus of relatively small, stout bodied elapids found in Australia and New Guinea that bear strong resemblance to vipers. Genus Acantophis.

Deciduous: Trees and shrubs that shed their leaves annually. Many species of reptiles and amphibians inhabit deciduous environments.

Deimatic Display: Any defensive display or pattern of displaying threatening or startling behavior to frighten a predator or to enable escape.

To dehydrate or dry out due to loss of water. Dess-i-kat-ion/dess-i-kate

Detrivore: An animal that feeds primarily on dead or decaying plant and animal material.


Dewlap: The loose, scaly, or sometimes spiny flap of skin on the throat and neck of males of many lizards used in courtship, defensive, and territorial displays. Dew-lap


Diapsid: A group of animals that have developed or evolved two openings on each side of the skull known as Temporal Fenestra from at least one point in time or another in their ancestral history. All snakes, crocodilians, tuatara, lizards, and birds are diapsids. Di-ap-sid


Dinker: An animal of interest to be bred or proven out.


Diploid: Having two sets of chromosomes per cell. 2N. Dip-loid


Disjunct: Refers to a population of species that is isolated or separate from that species’ normal range in a given state or region. Dis-junct


Diurnal: Used to describe an animal that is primarily active during the daytime. Di-urn-al

Divergent Evolution: Occurs when two or more populations or species continue to develop more and more dissimilar traits and characteristics over time.


DIY: Do it Yourself; Usually in reference to custom built/designed enclosures, racks, or other home based projects.

DNA: Deoxyribonucleic Acid; Molecules that consist of all of the genetic information or “building blocks” of organisms.


DNR/FWC: Department of Natural Resources or Fish and Wildlife Commission. The statewide agency responsible for managing, overseeing, and enforcing all regulations and aspects pertaining to fisheries, wildlife, and natural resources in the state including the collection, sale, and possession of all native herpetofauna.

DOA: Shipping term for “dead on arrival”.


Dominant Trait: A trait that is expressed as the animal’s phenotype with only one allele in a pair of genes. Usually denoted with a capitalized letter.


DOR: Dead on road.


Dorsal/Dorsum: The upper or top area and scalation of an animal. Dor-sal/dor-sum


Dorsolateral Fold: The visible ridges or flaps of skin found on the lateral sides of many frogs that can be used in identification of species. Dor-so-lat-er-al


Double/Triple Clutch: When an animal lays eggs or gives birth to young 2-3 times in one year.


Double Recessive: An animal that possesses two different simple recessive traits that are both expressed as the animal’s phenotype. E.x. Albino Granite Burmese python.


Dragon: Term used in reference to an agamid lizard, usually Bearded Dragons, but also sometimes for others such as Frilleds and Water dragons.

Driftless Region: A region within the upper Midwest (namely southwestern and western Wisconsin, southeastern Minnesota, northeastern Iowa, and northwestern Illinois) that largely escaped glaciation, thereby creating steeply carved bluffs and valleys. This region is home to many species of amphibians and reptiles.


Dry Bite: A bite from a venomous snake in which no venom is injected.


Dubia: Dubia cockroach; Blaptica dubia. Doo-bia


Duvernoy’s Gland: A modified salivary gland seen in some genera of colubrid snakes that produces and secretes a mildly toxic saliva or venom that is used to overpower and subdue prey. Dove-er-noys


Dysecdysis: Veterinary terminology used to describe poor or incomplete shedding due to improper husbandry, temperatures, humidity, or other factors. Dis-eck-dy-sis


Dystocia: Also known as Egg binding; The failure or inability of a female animal to successfully pass or lay eggs due to impaction, environmental, nutritional, or other deficiencies. Dis-toush-a




Eastern Hemisphere/Old World: Geographic term used in reference to the half of the Earth east of the Prime Meridian and west of 180 degrees longitude. Includes much of Africa, Europe, Asia, and Australia.

The process of shedding, or sloughing of the skin. Ec-dye-sis

Ecesis: The establishment of a new organism in an environment.


Ecology: The scientific study of all organisms and their relationships in the environment. E-col-ogy


Ecosystem: All of the interactions between organisms, other living, and non-living factors and their surroundings in an environment.


Ecotone: Used to describe the bordering or transition between two different habitats, and are often biologically diverse; Edge habitats (i.e. forest and prairie). Eco-tone

Ecotype/Ecospecies: A genetically, phenotypically, and geographically distinct race or population within the same species.


Ectoparasite: Any parasite which feeds externally on the blood of an animal. Includes mites and ticks with regards to reptiles and amphibians. Ecto-par-a-site


Ectothermic (Cold blooded)/ Poikilothermic: An animal that cannot regulate their own body temperatures through internal physiological means, and must rely on its external or ambient environment to do so. Ecto-therm-ic


EDB: Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus adamanteus).


Eft: The terrestrial juvenile stage of a newt that usually has bright red or orange coloration. Eff-t


Egg Tooth: A small tooth possessed by many hatchling reptiles located at the tip of the snout used to aid in hatching, and is lost shortly thereafter. There is no further scientific or technical term for “egg tooth” we are aware of.


Elapid: Any species of venomous snake belonging to the family Elapidae, which includes cobras, mambas, kraits, sea snakes, taipans, and coral snakes. All elapids are characterized by hollow, short, fixed front facing fangs. E-lap-id


Emaciated: A state of starvation or extreme illness in which all available fat and muscle reserves have been used up in metabolic activity resulting in a very thin or skeletal appearance of an animal. E-mace-eated




Emoryi: Emory’s or Great Plains Rat snake (Panthertophis guttata emoryi). Em-or-oy


Endangered Species: A state and/or federally designated status for a species which is rare, declining, or present in low numbers and is in danger of extinction.


Endemic/Endemism: An ecological state of a species being indigenous, or unique to only one or a very few, oftentimes isolated geographic location and/or habitat.


Endling: The last remaining individual member of a species or subspecies before extinction.


Endoparasite: Any parasite which feeds on the blood internally, or requires lifecycle inside of a host. Includes round worms, tape worms, flukes, and other worms. End-o par-a-site


Endothermic (Warm blooded): An animal that is capable of regulating their internal body temperate through internal physiological means. End-o-therm-ic

Energy Pyramid/Food Chain: A pyramid or diagram depicting the relationship and transfer of energy and nutrients consisting of producers, primary, secondary, and tertiary consumers.

Entomology: The scientific branch of biology concerning the study of insects, and sometimes arachnids and other invertebrates. En-toe-mol-ogy.


Envenomation/Envenomate: The process by which a venomous animal utilizes and injects its venom through a bite or sting. En-ven-om-ation/en-ven-om-ate


Environmental Indicator: Any organism or species whose presence or absence in an environment can be used to assess the overall health or state of that environment. Frogs and other amphibians are often used as environmental indicators due to their porous skin and sensitivity to environmental degradation.


Ephemeral/Vernal: Used in reference to temporary wetlands or bodies of water, often in woodlands, that dry out later in the year and are used by many species of amphibians in early spring for breeding. E-fem-oral/Ver-nal


ESA: The Endangered Species Act of 1973. A federal U.S. environmental law initially enacted in 1973 to carry out provisions in CITES and designed to protect critically imperiled species from extinction as a consequence of economic growth and development untampered by adequate concern and conservation. The ESA has been, and continues to be subject to numerous revisions and overhauls each year.


Estivation/Aestivation: A state of greatly reduced activity or metabolic rate during times of drought or other harsh, unfavorable conditions. Aest-iv-ate


ETB: Emerald Tree boa (Corallus caninus).  


Eukaryote: Any organism composed of one or more cells that contain well defined nuclei and other cell structures. All higher animals are eukaryotes.

Ethology: The scientific study of animal behavior. Eth-ol-ogy

Etymology: The study and historical interpretation of words and their meanings. In science and biology, etymology is most often used to interpret Latin or Greek names for a given species whenever known.


Evolution: The process by which a species, or populations of a species, undergoes inherited changes over a period of time due to natural selection and other forces in its environment.


Exoskeleton: The hard, rigid external covering of many insects and arachnids that is periodically shed and replaced through Molting. Exo-skel-et-on


Extant: A species that is currently living and in existence. Opposite of extinct. Ex-tant


Extinction/Extinct: A species in which all members have disappeared, and are no longer in existence. Ex-tinct/ex-tinct-ion


Extirpated: An animal or species that has become extinct within a given area or region, but may still be present elsewhere; a localized extinction. Ex-ter-pated




F1, F2, F3...: Referring to the number of generations an animal has originated or can be traced from.


False Bottom: Any horizontal structure or partition that can be used as temporary or extremely utilitarian flooring inside an enclosure.


“Fancy”: A generic, unspecific term, most often used in big box retail outlets, to describe any color and/or pattern morph of reptile or amphibian.


Fang: A modified hollow, hinged or fixed front or rear tooth used in the injection of venom.


Feeder: An animal or invertebrate that is maintained/bred, or is acquired for the purpose of feeding and sustaining another animal. Rodents, fish, and many insects/insect larvae are commonly used feeders.

Fauna: All of the animal life in a particular region or area. Also reference to Fauna Classifieds.


Femoral Pores: Small glands or openings on the underside of the hind legs, thigh, or groin of some lizards that can be used to determine gender. Fem-oral

Fen: A partially flooded peatland marsh or other wetland. Fens can provide habitat for many species of amphibians and reptiles.


Fer-de-lance: Common local, or vernacular name for lancehad pit vipers of the genus Bothrops of central and South America; Often Bothrops asper or Bothrops atrox.


Ferguson Zones: A series of basking and thermoregulatory zones developed by Dr. Gary Ferguson, a renowned herpetologist and researcher that measures the daytime and nighttime, and UV lighting preferences and requirements for many different commonly kept reptile and amphibian species in the wild for better selecting theri lighting and heating needs as pets.


Field Guide: Any published book or pamphlet serving as a guide as to which given plants and/or animals may be found in a given state, region, or area that typically include photographs and brief profiles of each species.


Field Herping: The practice of actively searching for reptiles and amphibians in their natural habitats for recreation or professional purposes.


Fired Up: A commonly used term to describe an animal’s change in color and/or pattern intensity due to factors such as stress, agitation, or excitement.


Flip/Flipping: The act of purchasing or acquiring an animal by a private individual with the intent of re-selling them for profit.

Flora: All of the plant life for a particular region or area.


Follicle (Ovarian): A spherical or somewhat conical aggregation of cells forming a sac or gland located in the ovary that are felt for during palpation. Foll-icle


Force Feed/Assist Feed: The process of feeding an animal that will not otherwise willingly feed on its own through a mechanical or artificial means. Usually done only as a last resort.

Forest: An ecological landscape/habitat characterized as having 80% or more tree cover.


Fossorial: An animal that spends a primarily secretive and/or subterranean lifestyle. Foss-or-eal

Founder Effect: A form of genetic drift where the genes of founding stock or organisms appear more regularly or consistently than genes of other individuals.


Frass: The byproducts of an infestation or other concentration of insects, such as cockroaches/roaches that consist of shedded exoskeletons, feces, debris, and other wastes.


Free Handling: The act of freely and casually handling an animal without tools or safety equipment, usually used with reference to venomous reptiles.

Frog: Tailless amphibians characterized and distinguished from toads in common usage as having smooth, moist skin, longer hind limbs for leaping, and oftentimes leading a more aquatic to semi aquatic lifestyle than “toads”.

Frugavore: An animal whose diet consists primarily of fruits. Fru-ga-vore.


F/T: Frozen thawed; reference to feeders.


Fuzzy: The juvenile stage of rats and mice where fur begins to develop, but are not weaned.


FWC: False Water Cobra, Hydrodynastes gigas.




Gabby/Gaboon: Gaboon vipers (Bitis rhinoceros and gabonica).


Gabino: Hybrid between a Gaboon viper (Bitis gabonica) and Rhinoceros Viper (Bitis nasicornis).


Gastrolith: Also known as stomach, or gizzard stones. Stones or sometimes small rocks that are deliberately ingested by some animals (such as birds and some reptiles like crocodilians) that enter the gastrointestinal tract and which help digest and break down food over time.

Gator: Alligator; Usually American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis).


Gavial/Gharial: An unusual species of crocodilian found in portions of India and south central Asia characterized by its extremely long and narrow snout for a primarily fish diet. Gave-eal/Gary-eal

Gene: Any portion of DNA that enables organism to pass on adaptations or acquired features.

Gene Flow: The spread of genes and alleles across populations.

Generalist: An organism that is capable of surviving under a wide variety of conditions.

Genetic Backburning: The use of a subset of a population with fitter genetics (such as in invasive species control or management) but that may be less effective in other areas to ultimately out compete a main population of that species for food or other resources.

Genetic Drift: An evolutionary event or process influenced by random events rather than natural selection.

Genome: All of the genes of an organism.


Genotype: An animal’s genetic structure and composition that cannot necessarily be seen visually. Gene-o-type


Genus: Plural-Genera. A taxonomic classification of a group of organisms that share similar characteristics, but consist of different species. Gene-us/Jen-ra

Geophagy: The process of deliberately ingesting soil, substrate, rocks, or pebbles. Some animals are geophagic (such as birds and some reptiles like crocodilians) that inhgest stones, pebbles, or small rocks that enter the gastrointestinal tract and which help digest and break down food over time.


Gestation/Gestate: The period of time following copulation and prior to egg laying/giving birth. Ges-tate-ion/ges-tate


Glandular: Relating or referring to glands or skin characterized by glands. Glan-du-lar

Glen: A narrow, carved out valley or canyon that can serve as specialized habitat for rare reptiles or amphibians.


Glottis/Epiglottis/Bisected Glottis: The flap of cartilage near the tongue inside the mouth that enables some snakes to produce a loud, raspy hiss when disturbed. The glottis, which sits at the fore of the inside of the mouth, serves as an opening to the trachea, and is everted out to one side when a snake is in the process of ingesting a large food item to aid in respiration.  Glott-is/epi-glott-is

Goini: Apalachicola Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula “goini”). Go-in-eye


GRAIN: A defunct Global Reptile and Amphibian Invertebrate Network.


Grass snake: Common vernacular name for garter snakes (genus Thamnophis). Also the common name for a European species of colubrid snake in the family Natricinae (Natrix natrix).


Gravid: A state used to describe an animal that is currently carrying eggs or young. Grav-id


Gregarious: Term used to describe an animal or species which has a social or communal nature, causing them to commonly congregate naturally in multiple numbers. Gree-gar-e-ous


GTP/Chondro: Green Tree python (Morelia viridis). The term Chondro is derived from the species former genus name, Chondropython. Con-dro


Gular: Referring to the throat region. Gull-ar


Gut Loading: The process of providing feeder items, usually insects, food items of enhanced or superior nutritional value with the intent of subsequently providing added nutritional value for the animals designated to feed on them.




Haploid: A single set of unpaired chromosomes.

Headstart/Headstarting: A conservation strategy where a species (particularly if it has low juvenile recruitment rates/high predation rates) is purposefully bred in captivity and its subsequent eggs/young/offspring are reared in captivity for a length of time until they are old enough and/or large enough to be released into a specific area of the wild to where predation becomes less of an issue.

: Cryptobranchus alleganiensis; A species of giant, aquatic salamander found in eastern North America characterized by a dorsoventrally flattened body and numerous folds of skin and gill slits.


Heloderm: Two species of venomous lizards from the genus Heloderma; The Gila Monster (Heloderma suspectum) and Mexican Beaded Lizard (Heloderma horridum). Unlike snakes, the venom of heloderms is pumped through venom glands and grooved teeth on the lower jaw. Heel-o-derm/Heel-a Monster


Hemipenes (plural): The male reproductive organ of snakes and lizards used in copulation to deposit sperm. Hemi penis singular. Hemi-peens


Hemotoxic/Hemotoxin: Any toxin, or characteristics thereof, that damages, destroys or adversely affects red blood cells, organs, and bodily tissue. He-mo-toxin


Herbivore/Herbivorous: An animal that feeds primarily on plant matter. Her-biv-ore/her-biv-or-ous


Herp/Herping: 1. Slang for herptiles; reptiles and amphibians. 2. A verb used to describe the act of field herping.


Herper(s): Any individual who practices field herping, herpetoculture, or otherwise holds a genuine passion and interest for reptiles and amphibians or is thereby engaged in any aspect thereof. Also a series of documentaries available on DVD produced by Dave Kaufman highlighting all aspects of what it means and is like to be a herper.


Herpetoculture: The amateur to professional practice of keeping and/or propagating reptiles and amphibians in captivity for use in the commercial or private pet industry, academic, or other educational institutions. Her-pet-o-cul-ture


Herpetofauna: All of the reptile and amphibian species indigenous to a given area or region. Her-pet-o-fawn-a


Herpetological Society: A local, regional, or state nonprofit organization dedicated to educating enthusiasts and the public about all aspects of misunderstood reptiles and amphibians, and serves as a source of expertise on conservation, societal, and regulatory issues involving them. They consist of pet owners, hobbyists and enthusiasts, professional breeders, veterinarians, researchers, academic and educational institutions, and many others. Her-pet-o-logical


Herpetology: The scientific branch of biology or zoology focusing on the study of reptiles and amphibians. Her-pet-ol-ogy


Herptile (Herps): The collective term used to describe or reference reptiles and amphibians.

Heterotrophic: An organism that cannot create or synthesize its own food or nutrients and instead needs to derive it from other sources. All animals are heterotrophs.


Heterozygous (Het): Having two different alleles in a pair of genes where the recessive trait is possessed by the animal but is dominated by the dominant trait, and thus is not expressed as the animal’s phenotype. Het-er-o-zy-gous


Hibernaculum: Any structure or area in which snakes (as well as many other animals) travel to and from, and gather communally prior to or following hibernation each year in temperate climates. Hi-ber-nack-u-lum


Hide: A cage or enclosure furnishing that provides an animal a secure and confined space to hide; hide box.


Hinge: A crease on the plastron of many turtles enabling flexibility and mobility of the front third of the plastron.


Hisser: Madagascar Hissing cockroach.


Hog/Hoggie: Hognose snakes; Genus Heterodon and Leioheterodon.


Holdback: Offspring from a clutch or litter that are retained and not sold off, often for future breeding projects.

Homoplasy: A shared trait or characteristic found in different taxa that can be assumed to have been independently derived and evolved without a common ancestor. An example of homoplasy would be ecothermy, a trait that is shared by both frogs and lizards. Homo-play-see.


Homozygous: Having two of the same alleles in a pair of genes, and is thus expressed as the animal’s phenotype. Ho-mo-zy-gous


Hook/Tongs: Stainless steel or metal handling devices specifically designed for safely handling, moving, and/or restraining of venomous, or otherwise aggressive animals.


Hook Training: The practice of using a snake hook or other long handled tool to acclimate an animal to handling or to cancel out an actual or perceived feeding response displayed by an animal, especially by a large constrictor.




Hopper/Crawler: The juvenile stage of rats and mice between approximately 10 and 20 days where the eyes are opened but still prior to weaning.


Hornworm: The larvae or caterpillars of hawk moths characterized by having a spike towards the tip of the tail that are sometimes used as feeders.


Hot: Informal term or reference to any venomous reptile.


HSUS: The Humane Society of the United States; The nation’s largest and wealthiest animal rights organization that opposes the ownership of any reptile or amphibian and seeks to outlaw all ownership, sale, and trade. HSUS is not affiliated with any local humane society or animal shelter.

Humus: Rich organic soil material.


Husbandry: All aspects of care and/or propagation of plants or animals in captivity.


Hybrid: The offspring of the breeding or propagation of two different species in the same genera.


Hybrid Vigor/Heterosis: The tendency of offspring of a crossing between two or more species to show superior or more environmentally resistant traits or characteristics.


Hypercalcemia: A disorder seen involving an excess of calcium in the body or bloodstream. Hyper-cal-see-mia


Hypomelanistic (Hypo): A visible or noticeable reduction, but not complete absence of dark pigmentation in the skin. Hi-po-mel-an-istic




IACUC: Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. Protocols and procedures required by law to ensure safe and humane treatment of animals used in research, teaching, and other educational facilities or institutions.


Iggy: Iguana.


Impaction: A condition where substrate or other foreign matter is ingested and forms a blockage in the intestinal tract, thereby hindering the ability to pass waste. Im-pact-ion


Imperfect/Pet Quality: Used to describe an animal for sale or adoption that has any visible injury, or genetic deformity making it less than suitable or desirable for breeding purposes.

Incidental Take: Term used to describe the unintentional or secondary loss or mortality of rare, endangered, or protected species as a result of a given activity (i.e. construction, utility maintenance, etc.) that must occur in or near habitat that is known or suspected to harbor rare species.


Inclusion Body Disease (IBD): A highly contagious, and normally fatal disorder commonly seen in boas and pythons commonly characterized by “star gazing” and other neurologic and respiratory symptoms.


Indigenous/Native/Endemic Species: Used to describe a species which has occurred or can be found naturally in any given state, area, region, or locality. In-dige-in-ous/en-de-mic


Infralabial: Refers to the scales and scalation along the lower jawline. In-fra-lab-ial


Insectivore/Insectivorous: An animal that feeds primarily on insects and other invertebrates. In-sect-i-vore/in-sect-i-vor-ous


Intergrade: The offspring of the breeding or propagation of two or more races or *subspecies* that are still the same species. In-ter-grade


Invert/Invertebrate: Any animal that lacks, or does not possess a vertebral column, or spine. Includes all insects, arachnids, crustaceans, and others. In-vert-e-brate

Iridophore: Specialized cutaneous or subcutaneous cells that enable or allow many animals to present bright or vividly changing colors/iridescence.


Island, or Insular Gigantism: A biological phenomenon in which the size of an animal, population, or a species isolated on or within a small set of islands is drastically larger than their mainland relatives.


Isopod: Any of the many small terrestrial or aquatic crustaceans of the order Isopoda characterized by having seven pairs of legs, and include pillbugs, sowbugs, and wood lice. Isopods are commonly available in cultures as feeders or allowed to consume organic material in a vivarium or enclosure. Iso-pod


ITIS: Integrated Taxonomic Information System. An authoritative global information system providing current and up to date taxonomy on plants, animals, fungi, and microbes of North America and the world.


IUCN Red List: The International Union for Conservation of Nature. The world’s main authority on the current conservation statuses of biological species throughout the world.




Jacobson’s Organ: The olfactory organ in the roof of the mouth that collects and processes scent particles gathered from the air.


Jag/Jungle-Jag/Diamond-Jag: A designer morph of Coastal carpet python (Morelia spilota mcdowelli) known as “Jaguar” that is also often crossed with other subspecies of carpet python such as Jungles and the Diamond python.


Jaimie: Jameson’s Mamba (Dendroaspis jamesoni).


JCP: Jungle Carpet python (Morelia spilota cheynei).


Jowels: The large, bulbous cheeks that are prevalent in males of several lizard species and genera.




Keeled: Refers to the tiny ridges on each scale giving an animal a keeled appearance. Keel-ed

Keratin: The protein that makes up the composition of scales and scutes, and the same material that human hair and fingernails are comprised of. Care-eh-tin


Key/Keying Out: Any chart, diagram, or index system that can be used to identify specific members of group or taxa of plants or animals in question for a given area or region through process of elimination. Keys use many various identifying traits and features beginning with the broadest, most commonly shared features among the group (i.e. all snakes in a given region), narrowing down to more specific and minute features (i.e. all snakes in a given region that are colubrids, have keeled scales, and a divided anal plate etc.).

Keystone Species: A species in which the overall health or condition of the environment it lives in is dependent upon by that species’ presence.


King: Kingsnakes (Lampropeltis sp.).

Klepton: An animal species that needs to mate or copulate with another animal species or requires its sperm in order to complete its reproductive cycle.


Krait: Any member of the secretive, nocturnal genus of front fanged Elapid snakes known as Bungarus found in southern and Southeast Asia. Crate


KS: Kingsnake.com; Among the oldest and largest reptile and amphibian classified websites and forums.


KSB: Kenyan Sand boa (Gongylophis colubrinus).  




Labial: The scales or scalation of the upper lips or jawline of snakes and other reptiles and where the heat sensitive pits are located on most boas and pythons. Lay-be-ul


Lacy Act: A federal law enacted in 1900 that governs the importation and interstate transport of protected or injurious/invasive species. In 2012, The Burmese, Indian, African Rock, and yellow anacondas were added to the Lacy Act.


Lamellae: The enlarged disks or plates on the feet and toe pads of geckos that hold millions of tiny, microscopic setae used to adhere to many surfaces. La-mell-a


Larvae: The immature or juvenile stage of many insects or aquatic juvenile stage of newts and salamanders. Lar-vay


Lateral: The area and scalation along the sides of the animal between dorsum and ventral.


Lateral Line: A line found along the laterals of fish and aquatic amphibians that provides orientation and navigation while swimming.


Lateral Undulation: The most commonly used form of locomotion in most snakes where bending in the coils occurs during travel, giving the characteristic serpentine “S” shaped movement. Lat-er-al un-du-lat-ion


LD50: Lethal Dose 50%; The dosage of a toxin or venom required to kill one half, or 50% of a test population that is used as an indicator of a venom's acute or overall toxicity or potency. Used on rats and mice, not humans.


Leachie: New Caledonian Giant gecko, Rhacodactylus leachianus. Leech-ee


Leo: Leopard Gecko (Eublepharis macularius).


Lethal Gene: A gene or associated trait that almost always results in premature death of the offspring prior to or shortly after birth or hatching.


Leucistic/Leucy: A trait characterized by a reduction or absence of all pigmentation in the skin except for eyes. Often confused with albinism or amelanism, which differs in that the black pigment melanin is absent in the eyes. Lew-cis-tic

Lifelist: A comprehensive list, journal, or compilation of species seen, found, or encountered maintained in field herping.

Lifer: Term used in field herping in reference to a herper finding or discovering a species for themselves for the first time.

Limiting Factor: Any environmental factor or condition that tends to limit the growth, abundance, and/or distribution of an organism or population of organisms in an ecosystem.


Line bred Trait: A naturally occurring color, pattern, or other trait that is propagated or crossed, sometimes within the same progeny or genetic line, to produce or enhance that particular trait.


Locale/Locality: A specific area or region in which an animal’s genetic lineage originated or can be traced back to.


Locally Common: A native or indigenous species which may be fairly common in some areas, regions, or locales, but not others.


Loreal: Relating to the scalation between the eye and nostril. Loreal pits are located in this region on all pit vipers. Lore-eal


LTC: Long term captive.

Lunge Feeding or Ram Feeding: A method of aquatic feeding/predation where the predator moves forward with its mouth open and engulfs its prey.




MAHS: Madison area Herpetological Society.

Maladaptive: A trait or characteristic that is harmful or not beneficial to an individual’s survival  or reproduction.


Mantella: A genus of small, brightly colored mainly terrestrial frogs endemic to Madagascar. Man-tell-a


Marginals: The outer most scutes making up the periphery around the carapace of turtles, tortoises, and terrapins that can be used in identification.

Marine/Oceanic: Of relating to living or being found in oceans or saltwater.

Marker: A common, visible trait or feature on a heterozygous animal that is often (whether correctly or not) used to identify whether that animal is heterozygous for the given trait. Markers are not always accurate or reliable, however, since even normal or wild types often display natural variability in color and/or pattern.


Massasauga: Sistrurus catenatus; A small, thick bodied species of pygmy rattlesnake seldom exceeding 30 inches with 3 subspecies found in moist or swampy environments including fens, bogs, marshes, along river courses, and adjacent uplands. The Eastern subspecies ranges from Ontario Canada, through the Midwest U.S. and is both federally and state endangered in most states where it still occurs. Ma-sass-aug-a


Mata Mata: Chelus fimbriata. An unusual species of large freshwater turtle found in the Amazon river basin of South America characterized by its highly unusual leaf like appearance and numerous tubercles on the skin.

Matudinal: A more specific period of crepuscular animal behavior patterns where an animal or species may be most active during the dawn or sunrise.

Mechanical Filter/Filtration: An artificial, non living, or man made pollution control mechanism often used in aquariums and other aquatic enclosures or setups using aquarium filters, pumps, and other supplies and material to capture, sift, and/or degrade wastes and other pollutants.


Medically Significant/Important: A venomous species in which possesses venom that is sufficiently toxic or fatal to humans.


Melanistic: A trait characterized by an excess of Melanin, or dark pigment. Mel-an-istic


Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD): An adverse bone and/or muscle condition characterized by bone malformations, and usually the result of dietary, environmental, or nutritional deficiencies associated with poor husbandry.


Metamorphosis: The process consisting of two or more stages where an immature or juvenile undergoes transformation into its adult stage. Often seen in many invertebrates and amphibians (i.e. tadpole to adult frog). Met-a-morph-i-sis


Metapopulation: A group of populations consisting of the same species separated by space, but can interact as individuals can move from one population to another.


Metasoma: The tail segment on a scorpion.


Mex-Mex and Thayeri: Mexican/Variable Kingsnake (Lampropeltis mexicana Mexicana/thayeri).

Microhabitat: A small section of a larger or more extensive habitat that may be different in characteristics or composition and may be favorable for a species dependent on living in that specific habitat. I.e. the environment underneath a rock or log, a garden, or cave.

Microphagous: Feeding on small or minute particles of food or microorganisms.


Milk: Milk snakes (Lampropeltis triangulum ssp.).


Mite: Any tiny or minute member of the order of arachnids known as Acari characterized as having eight legs, multiple life stages, and being closely related to ticks. Most mites are benign and live amongst soil and debris, while others such as the reptile mite (Ophionyssus natricus) are notorious for being ectoparasites of captive reptiles, and are known as vectors for IBD and other diseases and pathogens.


Monotypic: Taxonomic nomenclature used to indicate a genus consisting of only one species. Mono-typ-ic


Monovalent: An antivenom that has been developed and is effective or can be used in treatment for snakebite of only one specific species. Mono-vail-ent


Morph/Aberrant: Any color and/or pattern variant of an animal that can occur naturally or is selectively bred and differs drastically from that specie’s normal pattern and/or coloration.

Morphology: The physical structure and characteristics of plants and animals.

Mountaine: Used to describe a species or population found in mountainous areas or at higher elevations.


Motley: A simple recessive mutation that extends the dorsal blotches and creates a pattern of lighter circular dorsal spots, blotches, or streaks.


Mudpuppy: Necturus maculosus; A small genus of large, aquatic salamanders characterized by their bushy red gills and finned tails. Also known as Water Dogs.


Mulga: A common, vernacular name for the King Brown snake (Pseudechis australis), a highly venomous species of elapid found in New Guinea and Australia.


Musk: The foul smelling odor or secretion that is secreted from the vent and cloaca of many reptiles as a defense mechanism to discourage predators.


Myotoxic/Myotoxin: Any toxin, or characteristic thereof, that adversely affects or destroys muscles and muscle cells in the body. My-o-toxin/My-o-toxic




Nape: Refers to the back of the neck.


NARBC: North American Reptile Breeder’s Conference. Large, captive bred reptile show held in Tinley Park, IL featuring hundreds of breeders from around the Midwest and world with educational seminars, panels, and symposium discussion.


Natural Selection: The evolutionary process by which organisms best suited for survival and reproduction in a given environment prevail and are successful.


Nasiolabial Groove: A small groove or fold of skin running between the eye and nostrils used in identification of several genera of salamanders. Naso-lab-ial

Necrotic Dermatitis (Scale Rot): A bacterial, or sometimes fungal infection of the scales (typically the ventral scales) usually as a result of an animal being maintained in overly wet, moist, or unsanitary conditions. Scale rot can be identified by the yellowish, grayish, pinkish, to reddish discoloration of the scales in early stages, and noticeable scabs, sores, and blisters in further stages. Ne-crot-ic Derm-a-tight-iss


Neotenic/Paedomorphic: The characteristic of some salamanders to retain larval features as adults such as feathery gills, and tail fins. Neo-ten-ic/Paid-o-morph-ic


NERD: New England Reptile Distributors owned by Kevin McCurley.


Neurotoxic/Neurotoxins: Any toxin, or characteristic thereof, that adversely affects the nervous system, tissue, and nerve cells. Neuro-toxic/Neuro-toxin


NFS: Not for sale.


NHC: National Herpetological Congress. Nonprofit organization consisting of herp society presidents, board members, and leaders designed to unite herpetological societies and organizations across the U.S.


NHI: Natural Heritage Inventory; A international network of inventory programs designed to track, monitor, and data on the occurances of endangered, threatened, or otherwise rare or uncommon plants, animals, and natural communities throughout the state.


Niche: The specific role or purpose an organism plays in its environment. Nitch


Nictitating Membrane: A transparent, second eyelid seen in crocodilians and anurans the serves as additional protection to the eyes or while submersed. Nick-tit-tating


Nightcrawler: Term used for medium to large earthworms that are used as feeders or bait.


Nocturnal/Crepuscular: Describes an animal that is actively primarily at night, dawn, or dusk. Noct-urn-al/Crep-scu-lar


Nuchal/Nuchal Glands: Relating to of the neck or nape. Glands located on the neck or nape that serve as a unique sequester of toxins derived from the diets of several genera and species of snakes, such as Rhabdophis (or the keelback snakes).




OBT: Orange baboon Tarantula (Pterinochilus murinus) or “Orange bitey thing”.

Occurrence: A measurement of population scale where a population, or individuals of a species have been found in a given area or under certain conditions.

: Relating to the eye and surrounding scalation; The clear, transparent scale covering and protecting the eyes in snakes. Oc-u-ler


Olm/Proteus: Proteus anguinus; A species of blind, aquatic salamander indigenous to central and Southeastern Europe. Pro-teus


Omnivore/Omnivorous: An animal that feeds on both plant and animal matter. Om-niv-orous/Om-niv-ore


Ontogeny: The biological process by which a neonate, hatchling, or juvenile member of a species undergoes one or more drastic changes in coloration and/or appearance into adulthood. On-tog-eny


Ooth/Ootheca: An egg sack laid by invertebrates such as mantids.


Opaque: A state used to describe an animal in pre-shedding condition with cloudy or milky eyes, and less vibrant coloration than usual. Also called Blue. O-paque


Ophidiophobia: An intense fear or dislike of snakes. Op-hidio-phobia


Ophiophagous: Term used to describe any species of snake that occasionally, or primarily, feeds on other snakes. O-phio-fag-us


Organism: Any living plant or animal considered as a whole.


Opisthoglypic: Describes the skull and dentition of a rear fanged snake. O-piss-tho-glyph-ous/O-piss-tho-glyph-ic


Osteoderm: The hardened, bony plate like ridges or scales found on the dorsum of crocodilians and some lizards. Os-teo-derm


Oviparous: Egg laying. O-vip-air-ous


Oviposition: The act of laying or depositing eggs. Ovi-position


Ovoviparous: Eggs develop and hatch internally, and live birth are given.  Ovo-vi-vip-air-ous




Palpate: To feel or physically examine an animal for eggs, young, or follicles. Pal-pate

Paludarium: A type of enclosure or vivarium which incorporates both terrestrial and aquatic elements.

Pangea: The 300 million year old super continent prior to it splitting off into the 7 continents of today: North America, South America, Africa, Asia, Europe, Australia, and Antartica.


Paradox: A genetic anomaly characterized by an incomplete or partial expression of a phenotype. Pair-a-dox

Parapatric: A form of speciation where new species develop over time when a population is separated by habitat or temperature changes. Results in temporal and/or behavioral changes that make members no longer able to breed.


Parasite/Parasitic: An organism that feeds and/or lives on or inside of another organism to the detriment of that organism known as the Host. Pair-a-site/Pair-a-sit-ic


Paratoid Gland: The large pair of kidney shaped glands on most toads that secrete a milky, toxic substance. Pair-a-toid


PARC: Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation; A diverse group and partnership between state and federal agencies, museums, conservation organizations, the pet industry, herpetological organizations, universities, zoos and nature centers, and environmental consultants dedicated to the conservation of all reptiles and amphibians.




Parietals: The enlarged, plate like scales atop the heads of lizards and snakes that can often be used in identification. Pa-riot-al




Parietal/Pineal Eye: Third Eye; A photosensitive organ found atop the heads of some lizards that serves as a light sensitive organ and aids in thermoregulation. Pin-eal


Parthenogenesis: A form of asexual reproduction where a female of a species is capable of reproduction and fertilization without copulation with a male. Par-then-o-genesis

Pathogen: Any microorganism that can infect a host including viruses, bacteria, sometimes fungi, and others.


Pedipalps: Modified anterior limbs or appendages seen in arachnids used for feeding. Ped-ee-palps

Peripatric: A form of speciation when an outer or outlying portion to a population is isolated by some means, and new species develop over time.


Periscoping: A natural behavior used by snakes, as well as other animals, where the head and neck are raised upwards as a means of  better “scoping” or surveying their surrounding environment.


Pet Project: A breeding project that is typically done for personal rather than serious and/or monetary reasons.


PH: Possible Hetetozygous.


Phenology: The scientific study of the natural occurrences, habits, or activity of plants or animals with regards to seasons or climate. Fen-ol-ogy


Phenotype: An animal’s outward coloration and/or patterning. Feen-o-type


Pheromone: A hormone or chemical messenger produced or released by a species that can be interpreted by another member of that same species. Fair-eh-moan

Philopatry: See Site Fidelity.


Phoenix worm: Larvae of the black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens) used as feeders.


Photoperiod/Light Cycling: Used in reference to any day/night or light/dark cycling when maintaining reptiles or amphibians in captivity.

Phylogeny: The patterns of evolutionary lineages and relationships.




Physiology: The branch of scientific study examining the structure and functions of organs, organ systems, and how other internal processes (i.e. digestion and ectothermy) work. Phys-eo-ology


Pie bald/Pied: Characterized by having irregular and unpigmented patches of skin or scales.


PIJAC: Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council; A national pet industry trade association covering all aspects of the retail and private pet industry.


Pine snake: A commonly used vernacular name for fox snakes (Mintonius vulpina) in Wisconsin and the Midwest. Also refers to large, nonvenomous snakes in the genus Pituophis, specifically Pituophis melanoleucus, found in the eastern and southeastern United States, but which does not naturally occur in Wisconsin or the Midwest.


Pinheads: Feeder crickets that are less than 1/8" in size. Pin headed also refers to a syndrome or condition seen in snakes where the body grows in disproportion to the animal's head and skull usually as a result of power feeding.


Pinkie: The blind, and hairless newborn stage of rats and mice up to approximately 7 days of age.

Pioneer Species: A species or organism that is first, or among the first to inhabit or colonize an area.


Pip/Pipping: The process of making a carefully executed incision to a laid egg, or clutch of eggs for the purpose of previewing the traits of the offspring and/or to initiate/expedite hatching. Pip-ing


Piscivore/Piscivorous: A carnivorous animal that feeds primarily on fish. Piss-civ-ore/Piss-civ-or-ous


Pitfall/Pit Trap: Any artificially constructed trap with or without a barrier that an animal must follow designed to capture invertebrates, amphibians, or small reptiles or mammals using one or more containers partially buried into the ground that that animal then falls into and cannot escape.

Pithing: A method of euthanasia, or quickly killing an animal by quickly piercing and severing its brain and/or spinal column.


Pit Tagging: The act of surgically or subcutaneously implementing a radio frequency identification device into an animal, usually for research, monitoring, or tracking purposes using radio telemetry.


Plastinate: The technique or process of preserving specimens and/o r organs thereof, usually for scientific, medical, research, or veterinary purposes. Plas-ti-nate


Plastron: The bottom, or ventral half of a turtle, tortoise, or terrapin’s shell. Plas-tron


Pleurodira: A grouping of turtles characterized by their ability to withdraw their heads and necks in an “S”, or sideways shape. Pl-euro-di-ra


Poison: a toxic substance (comprised of one or more toxins) causing dose-dependent physiological injury that results in self-induced toxicity (e.g., bacterial endotoxins) or is passively transferred without a delivery mechanism from one organism to the internal milieu of another organism without mechanical injury, usually through ingestion, inhalation, or absorption across the body surface.

Pokey: Indian Ornamental tarantulas; Genus Poecilotheria.


Polymorphic/Dimorphic: Used describe many different colors, patterns, or appearances seen among individuals of the same species. Poly-morph-ic/Di-morph-ic


Polyvalent: An antivenom that has been developed and is effective or can be used in treatment for snakebite of more than one species occurring in the same continent, region or area. Poly-vail-ent


Popping: A method of sexing reptiles, usually hatchlings or juveniles, by carefully everting the hemipenes, or lack thereof.

Posterior: Refers to the rear half of an animal.


Postocular: Refers to the scales directly behind the eye and along the posterior jawline. Postocular Stripe refers to one or more stripes that cover these scales in many species. Post-ocular


Power Feeding: The practice of feeding larger prey items to an animal and/or feeding on a more frequent or rigorous basis with the intent of having the animal reach sexual
maturity/breeding size at an earlier age.

Prairie: An open ecological landscape/habitat characterized by having 0-10% tree cover. Prairies with sandy or loamy soil are also often loosely referred to as “savannahs” or “barrens”.

Predation: The act of one animal preying upon, consuming, or ingesting another animal.


Prehensile: Usually describes a characteristic of an arboreal or tree dwelling animal’s tail which is extremely versatile and well adapted for climbing and gripping. Pre-hen-sile

Primary Consumer: A second level organism on the energy pyramid that feeds on the producers but is in turn eaten by secondary and tertiary consumers.


Probing: A method of sexing snakes with use of a sterile, stainless steel rod inserted into the vent and determined by the number of subcaudal scales reached.

Probiotic: Substances that promote or stimulate the growth of certain microorganisms, typically with beneficial qualities to combat ailments or disease.

Producer: A plant or organism that produces its own nutrients, is at the bottom of the food energy pyramid, and is eaten primarily by primary consumers. Plants are producers.


Prolapse: A veterinary and medical term used to describe the failure or inability of an animal to withdraw its hemipenes, reproductive, or other organs normally.


Proteroglyphic: Used to describe the skull and dentition of snakes with short, hollow, fixed front fangs; all elapids. Pro-tear-o-glyph-ic


Proven/Proven Out: The actual expression of a gene or trait as a phenotype through an actual breeding of parents.


Puff/Puffer: Puff Adders (Bitis arietans).


Puffoon: Hybrid between a Gaboon viper (Bitis gabonica) and Puff Adder (Bitis arietans).


Punnett Square: A simple diagram used to predict the genetic outcomes, and likelihoods thereof, of offspring resulting from any given crossing of known parents. Pun-it Square


Pyramiding: The irregular growth of the scutes on the carapace and/or plastron of turtles, tortoises, and terrapins resulting in an irregular and distorted appearance of the shell. Caused by poor husbandry and incorrect diet.




Pyro: Arizona Mountain Kingsnake (Lampropeltis pyromelana).


Python: Any small to very large member of the family pythonidae found only in the old world including Africa, Asia, and Australia. A distinguishing characteristic of pythons from *most* boas is that fact that pythons are oviparous, or egg laying. Also a genus of pythons found in Africa and Asia.

Quadrupedal: An organism that possesses, and moves primarily on four limbs.




Racer: Coluber constrictor; A species of nonvenomous, active colubrid snake with smooth and sleek scales found over much of the eastern and central United States depending on subspecies. Range from 2 to 6 feet and feed on amphibians, lizards, small birds, bird eggs, rodents, and smaller snakes.


Racerunner; Aspidoscelis sexlineata; Six lined Racerunner or Prairie Racerunner. A small species of active, diurnal lizard found in dry, sandy habitats and belonging to the large and diverse group of Teiid lizards characterized by rough granular scales.


Rack: A commercially available or custom designed form of reptile housing used by many hobbyists and professional breeders consisting of multiple slots for plastic shoebox or sweaterbox style containers for housing many snakes (and some other reptiles), as well as feeder rodents, in relatively small spaces.


Range/Distribution: The entire area of a given continent, state, or region where a given species is known or suspected to occur.


RARR: Rise Against Rattlesnake Roundups.


RAS: Reptile associated Salmonellae; Any genera of zoonotic bacterium that can be transferred to humans through direct or indirect contact with or is associated with reptiles or amphibians.


Rectilinear Locomotion: A form of locomotion used by large and heavy bodied snakes where lateral muscles are flexed similar to a caterpillar crawl in a straight line. Rect-i-lin-ear


Redworm: Small to medium sized earthworms (Eisenia fetida) commonly used as feeders or as bait.


Regurgitate/Regurge: To vomit or cause a food item to be bought back up. Re-gurge-it-ate


Relict/Remnant Population: A typically small population of a species that is isolated from that species’ main range in a state or region and typically only consists of a small number of old, non reproducing or non viable individuals.

Repatriation/Reintroduction: A conservation management strategy where a species, or small population of a species is re-introduced or returned to an area of former occurrence.


ReptiCon: A series of reptile shows and expos held at multiple locations throughout the U.S. including Chicago IL.


Reptile: Any ectothermic vertebrate animal that is characterized by having dry, scaly skin, and that reproduces terrestrially (or on land). Includes turtles/tortoises, lizards, crocodilians, snakes, and tuatara. Includes all members of the class Reptilia.


ReptileFest: The largest education-only reptile and amphibian education event featuring hundreds of species found worldwide and held in Chicago IL. Hosted by the Chicago Herpetological Society (CHS).


RES: Red eared Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans).


Retic: Reticulated python (Python reticulatus). Ree-tic


Rhac: Genus Rhacodactylus; Crested, gargoyle, and Leachie geckoes. Rack


RI/URI: Respiratory Infection or Upper Respiratory Infection.


Rinkhal: Hemachatus haemachatus; A monotypic genus of spitting cobra found in sub Saharan Africa. Rinkhals can be quite variable in color and pattern, ranging from solid colored to banded. Ring-hall


Road Cruising: The practice of searching for reptiles and amphibians on or along a roadway by vehicle, often during dusk or nighttime.

Rodent: Any member belonging to the very large order of mammals (Order Rodentia) characterized by continuously growing incisors for gnawing. Includes all rats and mice.


Rostral Scale: The scale located on the tip of an animal’s snout that is sometimes highly modified for a given purpose or lifestyle in some species. Ross-tral


RTB: Red tailed Boa. Often a generic pet store term used in reference to Boa constrictor imperator, but only Boa constrictor constrictor (or B.C.C.) are true “red tails”.




Sally: Salamanders.

Sauropod: A group of very large, quadrupedal , herbivorous, long necked dinosaurs.


Sav: Savannah Monitor (Varanus exanthematicus).


Savannah/Barrens: An open to semi open ecological landscape/habitat characterized as having tree cover that is more than 10% but less than 50%.


Savu: Savu Python (Liasis mackloti savuensis).


Scale: A modified, bony ridge or plate derived from keratin characteristic of all reptiles     that cover the body, and serve as added protection, assist in locomotion, and may vary in shape and size for many other specific functions.                                                                   


Scaleless: A simple recessive mutation characterized by an absence of dorsal and lateral scales in the snake. Ventral or belly scales are still present however.

Scavenger: An organism that feeds primarily on dead animal matter, or carrion.


Scenting: The practice of masking the scent of a feeder item with that of a normally preferred prey item through various means to induce reluctant feeders.


Scientific/Latin Name: A bionomial name assigned to a species consisting of a genus and species that is far more widely or universally recognized in taxonomy. Latin names are always italicized or underlined, and the first letter of the genus is always capitalized. The abbreviation "sp." can be used to denote species if the specific species is unknown or if referring only to genus.


Scute: The hardened, bony ridges or plates on the dorsal surface of crocodilians or shells of turtles, tortoises, and terrapins. Also refers to the larger, flat ventral scales of snakes and lizards. Skew-t


SD: “Super Dwarf”. A naturally occurring dwarf race or subspecies that is significantly smaller in size and length than mainland counterparts of the same species.

Secondary Consumer: An organism on the third level of the energy pyramid that feeds on primary consumers but may in turn be eaten by tertiary consumers.


Sedentary: A lethargic or inactive state and/or lifestyle. Sed-ent-ary


Septicemia: Poisoning of the blood and blood stream by bacteria, infection, or other toxins. Sept-e-see-mia


Serum Sickness: An allergic reaction in humans to being administered serum or anti venom in snakebite cases.


Setae: Tiny, microscopic hairs or bristles located on the feet and toe pads of many geckos enabling them to climb and adhere to surfaces. See-tae


Setup: The overall enclosure, furnishings, layout, and arrangement of a cage, enclosure, or reptile room.


SEWERFEST: Southeast Wisconsin Exotic Reptile Festival: Captive bred reptile expo held bi annually in Sturtevant Wisconsin.


Sexual Dimorphism: Describes any differences in size and/or appearance between genders of the same species.


SFD: Snake Fungal Disease; An emerging fungal disease affecting populations of Timber Rattlesnakes and many other snake species over the Eastern and Midwestern U.S. characterized by scabs, skin ulcers, lesions, and crusty scales,  subcutaneous nodules, and abnormal cloudiness of the eyes and shedding. The causes and impacts on populations of snakes affected by SFD are not yet fully known or understood, and much research remains.




Shed/Shedding: 1. Used in reference to an animal’s shed skin. 2. A verb used to describe the action or process of shedding by a reptile.


Sheltoposiok: A species of legless lizard indigenous to Europe and southern Asia; Pseudophis apodus. Shell-to-pose-iok




SHHS: Southeast Hot Herp Society: The nation’s premire resource for all topics pertaining to venomous reptiles and hot herp keeping. Includes discussions, articles, bite protocols, antivenom acquisition procedures, and much more.


Shift Box/Trap Box: A sealed, escape proof box or container with one or more openings and closings that can be used to safely transport and contain venomous reptiles.

SI: Self Immunization;
The dangerous and controversial concept and practice of injecting oneself with small, controlled amounts of snake venom with the idea of building increased immunity or resistance to the bites and/or venom of the respective genera/species.


Sidewinding: A form of locomotion used by some desert dwelling snakes where some segments of the body are raised off the ground and rolled while only two segments come into contact with the ground at any given moment.


Silkworm: The larvae or caterpillars of the silkworm moth (Bombyx mori) used as feeders.


Simple Recessive Trait: A trait or allele amongst a pair of genes that is typically masked by a dominant trait or allele and not expressed as the phenotype unless it is homozygous. Usually denoted as a lowercase letter.


Sink Population: A biological population in which death rates of individuals exceed birth rates, and in which immigration rates exceed emigration rates.


Siren: A small genus of aquatic salamanders found in sub tropical United States characterized by their elongate, eel like bodies, feathered gills, and tiny vestigial pair of forelimbs.


Site Fidelity: An ecological and behavioral trait and concept displayed by many animals (including many species of reptiles and amphibians) where there is a tendency for that animal to habitually or instinctually remain in an area or return to a specific area each year. Also known as Philopatry.


Skink: Any member of the extremely large and diverse family of lizards known as Scincidae characterized by smooth scales, and reduced, or sometimes even absent limbs.


Sling: A slang term for a tarantula or spider spiderling.


Slug/Infertile: An unfertilized egg or embryo that is layed.


Snapper: Snapping Turtle.


Snouty: Snouted Cobra (Naja annulifera).


Solenoglyphous: Term used to describe the skull and dentition of snakes which have long, hollow, hinged front fangs; most vipers and pit vipers. So-len-o-gly-phous

Solitary: Term used to describe the nature or behavior of an animal or species that does not commonly congregate and spends the majority of its lifestyle alone or independently. Sol-i-tear-ee


Solifuge/Solifugid: Greek meaning “those that flee from the sun”. Any member of the order of arachnids also commonly known as the camel spiders, wind scorpions, or sun spiders.

Source Population: A biological population in which birth rates of individuals exceed death rates, and in which emigration rates exceed immigration rates.


Specialist: An organism that only uses a narrow or specific set of resources. Opposite of a generalist.


Special Concern Species: A state or local status that is sometimes designated to a species that is uncommon or present in low and/or patchy numbers, but is not yet threatened or endangered.


Speciation: The formation of new and distinct species over time through evolution. Spech-iat-ion


Species: A specific taxonomic group of organisms capable of interbreeding and having the same, or very similar DNA composition, morphology/appearance, behavior, geographic range, and/or other factors. Not to be confused with “breed”.

Specimen: An individual member of a species or subspecies; or a reference to a study or research subject (plant or animal).

Spectacle: The transparent scale covering the eyes in snakes.


Spinneret: The small finger like organs or appendages at the tip of the abdomen in spiders and tarantulas used in constructing webs.


Springtail: Miniscule wingless insects from the order Collembola that are characterized by a spring like appendage under the abdomen used for leaping. Springtails are often available in cultures and sometimes are used as feeders or allowed to consume organic material in a vivarium or enclosure.


Spitter: Spitting cobras.


Spot Cleaning: The process of removing urates, feces, or uneaten food items from an enclosure without replacing the entire substrate.


Spring Peeper: Pseudacris crucifer; A species of tiny frog indigenous to much of Canada and the Eastern United States that calls in very loud choruses typically in early to mid spring.


Steppe Runner: Eremias arguta; A species of lizard belonging to the Lacertid family found in


the Ukraine and Russia that is fairly new to the U.S. pet industry. Step Runner


Stinkpot: Sternotherus odoratus; A genus or species of small, carnivorous, largely aquatic
turtle(s) commonly known as the mud and musk turtles.


Stomatitis (Mouth Rot): A bacterial, or sometimes fungal infection or disorder of the mouth seen in many reptiles caused by injury, or improper temperatures, humidity, or husbandry. Sto-ma-tight-is


STL/SVL: Snout to tail length; Snout to vent length.

Structural Coloration/Schemochrome: The production or derivation of colors from the visible light spectrum by microscopic structures on the surface.

Styro: Short for Styrofoam container or box.


Sub caudal: The scales located on the ventral surface of a snake’s tail past the vent that may be arranged in one or two rows depending on genera or species. The number of sub caudal scales reached during probing is typically an indicator of whether a snake is male or female.


Suboc: Trans Pecos Rat snake (Bogertophis subocularis).


Subspecies: A further classification below species where organisms are capable of interbreeding and producing viable offspring, and are still considered the same species, but may have different coloration, patterning, or appearance. Subspecies can be denoted with an "ssp." in a latin name


Substrate: The material used to line an animal’s cage or enclosure.

Suction Feeding: A method of aquatic feeding/predation where prey is sucked or drawn into a predator’s mouth via vacuum like forces.


Sulcata: African Spurred Tortoise (Geochelone sulcata). Sul-caat-a


Super Form: A progeny or offspring of a pairing between co dominant parents that is also dominant, but has a drastically different coloration and/or patterning. E.x. Tiger Retic parents bred to produce super tiger offspring.


Superworm: Larvae of the species of darkling beetle (Zophobas morio) that are commonly used as feeders.


Supraocular: Refers to the scales directly above the eye, which may be highly modified into “horns” in some genera and species of snakes. Supra-ocular


Symbiosis: A mutual beneficial relationship between two or more organisms in their environment. Sim-by-oh-sis

Sympleisiomorphy: A trait or characteristic shared by two or more different taxa as well as more distantly related, broader, or ancestral taxas. I.e. a sympleisiomorphy would be having four legs, a trait shared by both dogs and lizards. Sim-please-eio-morph-ee.

Synapomorphy: A shared trait or characteristic by two or more taxa inferred to have originated from the most recent common ancestor. Sin-ap-o-morph-ee.

Sympatric: A form of speciation where two or more new species develop over time from an ancestral species occupying the same area or region.




T: Tarantulas.


Tadpole: The aquatic larval stage of most frogs or toads.               


Taipan: Genus Oxyuranus. A genus of large, fast moving, and highly venomous snakes from the family Elapidae found in Australia and New Guinea. Tie-pan


Tailing: The practice of grabbing and handling a reptile, usually in reference to venomous snakes, and with or without handling equipment, by the tail.

Target Training: A behavioral exercise used with many different animals (including crocodilians and some monitor lizards as far as reptiles) where the animal’s focus is on a particular object and some desired action by the trainer or handler is performed.


Taxa: Any taxonomic level or classification of an organism (family, genus, species, etc).


Taxonomy: The branch of scientific study addressing the systematic classification of all organisms. Tax-on-omy


Tease Feeding: An extreme variant of force feeding with the intent of inducing an animal that is otherwise reluctant to feed on its own to strike and hold a prey item through repeated harassment or provocation with the prey item. Not recommended in most circumstances.


Tegu: A genus of large, omnivorous lizards belonging to the family Teiidae found in South America that superficially resemble monitor lizards. Tee-goo or Teg-oo

Telson: The last body appendage found on an arthropod.

Temperate: An area or region characterized by changing seasons and moderate temperature/climate changes. Tem-per-it


TempGun: A handheld infrared thermometer used to pinpoint and identify temperatures of a given spot or area.

Tension Zone: A loosely “S” shaped climatic and geographical transitional zone and gradient in Wisconsin marking the transition between southern broadleaf forest and northern mixed forest.


Terrapin: Grouping of chelonians consisting of several genera as living in brackish water. Sometimes used interchangeably and/or incorrectly with freshwater “turtles”. Also sometimes used in Europe to refer to Slider turtles (genus Trachemys).Tear-a-pin


Terrarium/Vivarium: An enclosure made of glass, screen, injection molded plastic, or other material used to house and maintain reptiles and amphibians and which live plants may be maintained in if one chooses. Available in many sizes and dimensions. Ter-rare-eum, Vi-vare-ium


Terrestrial: Used to describe any animal that lives primarily on land and on the ground. Terr-es-tree-ul

Tertiary Consumer: Organisms on the fourth and top level of the energy pyramid that feed on secondary and/or primary consumers.


Tesselata: Peppered Cockroach (Archimandrita tesselata).


Tetraploid: Having four sets of identical chromosomes. Tet-ra-ploid

Tetrodotoxin (TTX): A toxic chemical in the skin of many amphibians and other poisonous animals.


Thanatosis: Also known as “Apparent death”. An adaptive, voluntary behavior seen in many animals, including some reptiles, where the animal mimics the appearance of being dead. “Playing dead”. Than-at-toe-sis


Thermal Gradient: A  range of temperatures or other factors an animal can choose within a cage, enclosure, or environment.


Thermoregulate: The process by which a reptile or amphibian regulates its body temperature by selecting its preferred thermal gradient. Thermo-regulate

Theropod: A clade and suborder of bi-pedal carnivorous, omnivorous, insectivorous, or herbivorous dinosaurs and its descendents (including modern birds).


Thorax/Mesosoma: The middle section of the body of insects connecting the head and abdomen, and that bears the wings and/or legs.


Threatened Species: A species which is rare, declining, or found in low numbers, and is approaching, but not yet at Endangered status.


Timber: Timber Rattlesnake, Crotalus horridus.


Tines: The two distinct forked tips on the tongues of many squamates (lizards and snakes) designed to increase their olfactory surface area.


T-Negative: A form of albinism seen in an animal where the enzyme tyrosinaise is absent, and has absent or low amounts of melanin, giving that animal a unique color and/or appearance.

Toad: Commonly used term consisting of several families and taxa of tailless amphibians that typically have dry and/or warty skin, shorter hind limbs, and live more terrestrial lifestyles as adults than “frogs”.


Tonic Immobility: A natural, involuntary defensive reflex where the animal enters a state of paralysis when attacked or confronted. Tonnic Immobility


Torpid/Torpor: An inactive or lethargic state. Tor-pr/Tor-pid


Tort: Tortoises.

Tortoise:  Grouping of chelonians distinguished from turtles and terrapins as being primarily terrestrial and herbivorous and characterized by large, elephantine limbs and feet, and highly domed shells. Tortoises are found in the Americas, Africa, Europe, and Asia.


Toxicology: The branch of biology and science focusing on the nature, composition, and effects of poisons and venoms. Tox-i-col-ogy


Toxungen: a toxic substance (comprised of one or more toxins) causing dose-dependent physiological injury that is actively transferred via a delivery mechanism from one organism to the external surface of another organism without mechanical injury.


T-Positive: A form of albinism seen in an animal characterized by the presence of an enzyme called tyrosinaise and some of the darker pigment melanin giving that animal a unique color and/or appearance.

Triad: A series of three (3). For example, the series of red, black, and yellow coloration on many subspecies of milk and king snakes, and coral snakes.

Triangulation: A behavioral tendency seen in many snakes where the head and neck are flattened in defensive displays to discourage predation.Tri-angu-lation


Triploid: Having three sets of chromosome per cell, Denoted as 3N. Trip-loid


Tripoding: The behavior of standing bi-pedially for short periods of time to better survey surroundings seen in some monitors and other lizards.


Tuatara: One of only two known extant species of reptile belonging to the family Spenodontidae endemic only to New Zealand. Tuataras bear strong resemblance to lizards, but unlike all other extant reptiles, have an unmodified diapsid skull with two temporal openings and unique overlapping dentition. Two-a-tar-a


Tubercle: Small fleshy projections found on the skin of many turtles and amphibians. Tu-ber-cle


Tubing/Tube feeding: A tube designed or used specifically for safely restraining venomous reptiles for the purpose of force feeding or medicating.

Turtle: A taxa or grouping of reptiles characterized by a typically hardened, bony shell. The generally accepted use of the word “turtle” in herpetology includes the marine sea turtles and any aquatic to semi aquatic freshwater turtles, distinguishing them from tortoises and terrapins.

Turtle/Tortoise Table: A form of custom built/designed indoor and/or outdoor housing of greatly varying specifications that allows for greatly improved housing and accommodations for many species of turtles or tortoises.

Tympanic Fold: The fold of skin surrounding the typmanic membrane in many species of frogs.


Tympanic Membrane/Tympanum: The large, visible outer auditory membrane seen on frogs on the side of the head that serve as the ear drum. Tim-panic

Type Specimen: In taxonomy, a species that serves as representative for a given taxa.




Umbrella Species: A species that is selected for making conservation related decisions typically due to the fact that protecting such species indirectly benefits many other, often lesser known species that share the same or similar habitats and/or live in association with the umbrella species.

Unken Reflex:
A defensive posture used by many salamanders, newts, and some frogs and toads where the body is contorted or arched back to display bright warning coloration. Un-ken Reflex


U Plex: An acrylic or Plexiglas sheet of varying size or dimensions with a pre cut hole used to safely transfer venomous reptiles into or between enclosures or temporary housing (i.e. deli cups, storage containers).


Urates: A nitrogenous waste product of many reptiles characterized by a white to yellowish, chalky appearance. Passing urates is normal and healthy for all reptiles. Yur-ates


URI: Upper Respiratory Infection.


Uromastyx (Uro): Uromastyx; Any of the number of medium sized, primarily herbivorous lizards belonging to the family Agamidae characterized by their stout, rotund bodies, and short, spiny tails. Also called Mastigure, or spiny tailed lizards. Your-oh-mas-tix

Uropygid: Greek meaning “tailed rump”. Any member of the order of arachnids also commonly known as the whip scorpions, or vinagaroons.


Urticating Hairs: The irritating hairs found on the limbs and abdomen of tarantulas that are cast or shed off in defense. Ur-tic-ating


Urutu: Bothrops alternatus; A species of Lancehead pit viper found in Brazil and surrounding areas of South America. Ur-oo-two


USARK: United States Association of Reptile Keepers; A national trade association representing and defending the rights of herpetoculture and the reptile segment of the pet industry.


USDA: United States Department of Agriculture. The U.S. federal executive department responsible for developing and executing federal laws and guidelines related to farming, agriculture, forestry, food, and some aspects of animal health, welfare, sales, and importation. APHIS, or Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, is responsible for the investigation and enforcement of plant and animal issues under its jurisdiction.


UTH: Under tank Heater.


UVA/UVB/UVC: Ultra Violet lighting of various spectrums and wave lengths necessary for the proper calcium/vitamin D3/nutritional development, husbandry and reproduction of many reptiles and amphibians.




Vagrant/Vagrancy: When a species travels or occurs outside of its normally considered range.

Any member of the family Varanidae, which consists of all monitor lizards. Any member of the carnivorous, primarily terrestrial group of versatile lizards that swim, climb, and dig well found in Africa, Australia, and Asia. Va-ran-id

Vector: Any disease carrying organism.


Venom: a toxic substance (comprised of one or more toxins) causing dose-dependent physiological injury that is passively or actively transferred from one organism to the internal milieu of another organism via a delivery mechanism and mechanical injury.


Venomoid: A venomous reptile that has been surgically altered by having the venom glands and/or ducts severed or removed. Venom-oid


Vent/Cloaca: The external opening on the underside of the base of the tail where both waste is excreted, and eggs or young pass through. Clo-ache-a


Ventral: The bottom, or belly area and scalation of an animal.


Vermiculite: Substrate used for insulation and/or to retain moisture and humidity in egg or nest boxes, or hide boxes. Ver-mick-u-lite


Vermiform: Resembling or having the shape of a worm.


Vernacular/Common Name: A name attributed to a species based on observable characteristics, features, habits or behavior of that species. Vernacular names are often ambiguous and vary among areas or regions with many species having more than one alternate name. Ver-nack-u-ler


Vertebrate: Any animal that possesses a vertebral column or backbone. All fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals are vertebrates. Ver-te-brate


Vertical Burrowing: A method of burrowing or concealment used by several genera and species of sand dwelling viperid snakes using lateral muscular and bodily movements without any forward locomotion.

Vespertine: A more specific form of crepuscular animal behavior patterns where an animal or species is most active during dusk, or sunset.

Vestigial: Genetically determined structures, organs, or appendages that have lost all or most of their ancestral functions over time.


Vestigial Spur/Limb: A very small pair of claw or hook like appendages seen at the vent/base of the tail in boas and pythons that are believed to be remnants of hind limbs, and are used by males to stimulate courtship. Ves-tige-al


Veterinary: Profession relating to the health, diseases, and injuries on nonhuman animals and treatment and medicine thereof. Veterinarian/Veterinary Technician (Vet Tech): A professional who is trained, capable and qualified to perform and practice, or assist in the practice of veterinary medicine. Vet-er-i-nary


Vinegaroon: An order of tropical to sub tropical arachnids (Thelyphonida) bearing resemblance to scorpions by having enlarged, pincer like pedipalps, and have a whip-like flagellum. Vinegaroons do not have stingers or venom, but can secrete an acetic acid in defense. Vin-a-gar-oon


Viperid: Any member of the subfamily of venomous snakes Viperinae consisting of the “true vipers” or pitless vipers. Most viperids are characterized by long, hollow, hinged front facing fangs. Viper-id


Virology: The branch of biology and science focusing on viruses. Vi-rol-ogy


Viviparous: Form of reproduction in which live birth is given. Differs from Ovoviviparous in that young are not born in a clear, transparent membrane. Vi-vip-er-ous


Vocal Sac: Inflatable sac or pouch on the throat that is used in calling by male frogs and toads.




Waste Bin Taxon:  Also known as Wastebasket Taxon, Dustbin Taxon, and Catch-All Taxon. A system of taxonomy that places organisms into a broad genus or higher classification that do not fit well elsewhere.

Larvae of the order of wax moths known as Pyralidae that are commonly used as feeders.


WC: Wild Caught.


WDB: Western Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox).


WDC: Wildlife Discovery Center; Located in Lake Forest IL and curated by Rob Carmichael that houses among the largest educational collections and displays of venomous reptiles in the Midwest along with many other reptiles, amphibians, and other wildlife.


Weanling: The first young or juvenile stage of rats and mice in which they have weaned off of mother’s milk.

Western Hemisphere/New World: Geographical term used for the half of the Earth that lays west of the Prime Meridian, and east of the Antimeridian. Includes North and South America, sometimes western Europe and Africa, northern Antarctica, and sometimes Australia/New Guinea.


Wetland: Any environment or natural community saturated by water for all or part(s) of the year and with plants and other vegetation adapted for life in wet or saturated conditions. Wetlands can include ponds, lakes, marshes, swamps, rivers and streams, estuary and coastal areas, and other environments, and can act as habitat for many amphibians, reptiles, and other animals.


Whip Scorpion: An order of mainly tropical to sub tropical arachnids known as Amblypygi characterized by the absence of a tail or stinger, manti like pedipalps, and solid, and flattened bodies. Whip scorpions lack stingers or venom.


Wild Type/Normal: The normal, or naturally occurring coloration and pattern of a species.


W.I.R.E: Wisconsin Reptile Expo; Captive bred reptile expo held bi annually in Madison, Wisconsin.


Wobble head Syndrome: A neurologic loss of motor control that manifests to varying degrees seen in and associated with the spider morph ball python (Python regius).                                                      


Woma: A species of Australian python lacking heat sensitive pits that most other pythons have; Aspidities ramsayi.

Woodland: An ecological landscape/habitat characterized as having 50-80% tree cover.



Xanthic: Characterized by an excess of yellow pigment. Z-an-thic.

Xenopus: A genus of primarily aquatic frogs indigenous to sub Saharan Africa that are widely used as model organisms in research, developmental, and cell biology. Zeen-o-puss.

Xeric: Refers to dry, upland habitats with sandy or well drained soil that many reptiles and even some amphibians thrive in. Zeer-ic.



YOY: Field herping term for “young of year”, or animals likely hatched or born that same year in which they are found.




Zonata: California Mountain Kingsnake (Lampropeltis zonata).


Zoology: The branch of biology/scientific study involving the kingdom Animalia, or all animals.


Zoonoses: Any disease or pathogen that can be transmitted from a non human animal to humans. Zoo-nos-es


Zygodactylic: Having two sets of opposable toes, with one pointing forward  and the other pointing backward. Often used to describe the feet of birds and chameleons. Zy-go-dact-il-ic

Zygote: a fertalized egg or ovum.


Taxonomic Classification (from highest to lowest):







Phylum (Sub phylum)














Example Taxonomic Classification: California Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula californiae)


Life-All living, physical, and animate entities



Kingdom: Animalia (All animals)


Phylum/Subphylum: Chordata-Vertebrata (All animals with a vertebra and nervous system)


Class: Reptilia (All reptiles)


Order: Squamata (All snakes and lizards)


Suborder: Serpentes (All snakes)


Family: Colubridae (All colubrid snakes)


Genus: Lampropeltis (Kingsnakes and Milksnakes)


Species (or Species Epithet): Lampropeltis getula (Common Kingsnake)


Subspecies: Lampropeltis getula californiae (California Kingsnake)


Common Sexual Notation of Available Animals for Sale:




-Males always to the left of the decimal, females always to the right. Only denote unsexed if not yet known or determined.


Example: 1.2 (One male, two females, and no unsexed)


Example: 1.2.3 (One male, two females, three unsexed).
*Any + symbol indicates eggs pending.