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A quick guide to the meanings of some Scientific names of some Ratsnakes.

Scientific names are often descriptive, whether it be a characteristic of the species or their origin, I've found it both fun & educational breaking apart scientific names to find how the common name came into use. Names that end in an 'i' are those named after a person eg: Elaphe schrencki after the Russian Naturalist Leopold von Schrenck. names ending in 'ensis' are those named after their country of origin eg: Orthriophis taeniurus yunnanensis which inhabits Yunnan in China.

One thing that has always puzzled me was why the Rein Snake got it's common name. A little research into their scientific name, and the mystery was solved. frenatum is greek for bridle, the head gear that horses wear, which includes the reins. presumabley they were given this name because of their head pattern. This got me interested in to the meanings behind other scientific names of Ratsnakes and below is a table I've compiled into the meanings of them as I've interpreted them.    

Bogertophis Bogert - Named in honor of Charles M Bogert (1908-1992).
Greek: ophis ... Snake
subocularis Latin: sub ... under, below, next to
Latin: ocularis ... of the eye
Coelognathus Latin: koilos ... Hollow
Greek: gnath ... Jaw
flavolineatus Latin: flavius ... Yellow
Latin: lineatus ... Lined
helena Named after the Greek god Helen
h.monticollaris Latin: mont ... mountain
Latin: collare ... necklace, band for the neck
radiatus Latin: radiatus ... with rays
subradiatus Latin: sub ... under, below, next to
Latin: radiatus ... with rays
Elaphe Greek: elaphos ... Deer
anomala Greek: anomalos ... uneven, irregular
bella Latin: bella ... Beautiful
bimaculata Latin: bi ... Two
Latin: maculatus ... spotted
carinata Latin: carina ... Keel
climacophora Latin: klimakter ... rung of a ladder
Latin: phoreus ... bearer
dione Named after "Dione" the mother of Aphrodite in Greek mythology
erythrurus Greek: erythros ... Red
Greek: urus ... Tail
schrencki Named after Leopold von Schrenck (1826-1894), Russian Naturalist
Euprepiophis Greek: Euprepeia ... beauty, grace
Greek: ophis ... Snake
conspicillatus Latin: conspicillata ... a pair of spectacles
perlaceus Latin: perla ... a pearl
Latin: acea ... suffix meaning belonging to, of the nature of
Gonyosoma Greek: Gony ...  bend, angle
Greek: soma ... body
janseni Named after A. J. F. Jansen.
oxycephala Latin: oxys ... Sharp
Latin: kephale ... Head
prasinus Greek: prasios ... Green
frenatus frenatus ... with bridle
Oocatochus Greek: oon ... egg
Greek: Katecho... hold fast
rufodorsatus Latin: rufus ... Red
Latin: dorsalis ...Of the back
Orecryptophis Greek: oreo ... Mountain
Greek: ophis ... Snake
porphyraceus Greek: porphyra ... Purple, Red
acea ... suffix denoting orders and classes in zoology, belonging to, of the nature of


Named after Merel J. Cox


Named after T. Kawakami


Latin: latus ... Wide / Broad
Latin: cincta ... Banded


Latin: niger ... Black
Latin: fasciata ... Banded


Latin: pulcher ... Beautiful


Latin: valoir ... valid, effective
Latin: anti ... opposite
Orthriophis Greek: Orthrios ... early ... rising at the first dawn or very early in the morning
Greek: ophis ... Snake
cantoris Named after Theodore Edward Cantor
moellendorffi Named after the German marine zoologist Otto Franz Moellendorff (1848–1903)
hodgsoni Named after Hodgson
taeniurus Latin, taenia meaning stripe
Greek, oura meaning tail


Named after Mr. Fries


 Named in honor of Freidrich Grabowsky an Ornithologist from the museum Braunschweig, Germany.


Named in honor of Francois Mocquard, a French herpetologist born in Leffond, Haute-Saône


 Named in honor of Henry Nicholas Ridley (1855-1956) a botanist who worked primarily in southeastern Asia




Yunnan Province China
ensis .. from
Pantherophis Greek: ophis ... Snake
bairdi Named after Spencer Fullerton Baird
emoryi Named after William Hemsley Emory


"m " Dr. Michael J. Preston, Department of English
"e " Mary E. Marcotte, EPOB (Department of Environmental, Population and Organismic Biology) secretary
"a " Ann E. Carrington, do.
"h " Laura J. Heigl, do.
"l " Linda K. Bowden, do.
"l " Dr. William M Lewis, Chairman, EPOB
"m " Dr. Michael D. Breed, EPOB, former Chairman"o " Phyllis A. O'Connell, EPOB secretary
"r " Dean Charles R. Middleton, College of Arts and Sciences"u " Dr. Shi-Kuei Wu, Curator of Zoology, University of Colorado Museum
"m " Dr. Michael C. Grant, EPOB, former Chairman."
guttatus Latin: guttatus ... spotted
obsoletus Latin: obsoletus ... Faded, Dim.


Latin: quadri ... Four
Latin: vittata ... Striped


Named after Ferdinand Jacob Lindheimer

o.rossalleni Named after E. Ross Allen
o.spiloides Latin: oides ... from
slowinskii Named after Joseph B. Slowinski
vulpinus Latin: vulpinus ... Pertaining to a Fox ( Named after Rev. Charles Fox )


Named after Howard Kay Gloyd
flavirufa Latin: flavius ... Yellow
Latin: rufus ... Red


Latin: pardus ... Leopard


Latin: phaos ... Light
Latin: escens ... suffix meaning beginning to, nearly


Greek: poly ... Many
Greek: stichos ... Row


Rhinechis Greek: rhinos ... Nose
Greek: echis ... Viper
scalaris Latin: scala ... A Ladder
Latin: aris ... A suffix which means pertaining to.
Senticolis Latin: collum ... Neck
triaspis Latin: tres... three
Greek: treis ... three
Latin: aspis ... snake


Latin: intermediatus ... lying between


Latin: mutabilis ... changeable
hohenackeri Named after Rudolf Friedrich Hohenacker (1798–1874)
lineatus Latin: lineatus ... Lined
longissimus Latin: longissimus meaning longest
persicus Persicus ... Persian
situla Latin: Bucket / Urn ?
This site has information on the following genera of Ratsnakes ... Spilotes, Spalerosophis, Ptyas, Zamenis, Elaphe, Rhinechis, Senticolis, Pseudelaphe, Pantherophis, Bogertophis, Orthriophis, Gonyosoma, Oreocryptophis, Oocatochus, Euprepiophis, Coelognathus, Archelaphe