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Glossary of Herpetological Terms

... compiled by Dave Royans & Sue Knight
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Term Definition
Ecdysis is the process of shedding the skin
Ecological Role
The role of a particular evolutionary facet of an animal that aids in its survival.
Ecotone - term used to describe the place where two different habitat types meet and overlap usually exhibiting some characteristics of both.
Any parasite such as a tick or mite which attaches itself to the outer part of the body of its host in order to extract nourishment.
ectotherms are cold-blooded animals such as a reptiles that rely on external warmth (ultimately from the sun in the wild heat retaining substrate or from an artifical heat source such as ceramic bulb/heatmat in captivity) to raise its body temperature so that it can become active. To cool the body ectotherms seek out a cooler environment.
Egg Bound
A life threatening condition that prevents a female snake from laying her eggs. It is usually caused by one or more (usually infertile) eggs adhering to the lining of the oviduct
Elaphe schrencki
Elaphe schrencki (Strauch 1873) Russian Ratsnake was named after Leopold Ivanovich von Schrenck.

Lopeold von Schrenck ( 1826 - 1894 ) was a Russian-German Zoologist Geographer and Ethnogropher.

Schrenck was born and brought up near Chotenj south-west of St Petersburg. He received his doctorate from the University of Tartu and then studied natural science in Berlin and Königsberg.

In 1853 Schrenck was sent by the St Petersburg Academy of Sciences to explore the Amurland. He reached the mouth of the Amur in September 1854 with the botanist Carl Maximowicz. In February 1855 he visited Sakhalin and then explored the Amur in the spring and summer. In 1856 he returned overland to Europe via Lake Baykal. He published his findings in his Reisen und Forschungen im Amur-Lande ( Travel and researches in the Amur-land ) - 1860

In later years Schrenck turned his attention to the study of the native peoples of Russia becoming director of the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography. Ethnography refers to the genre of writing that presents qualitative description of human social phenomena based on fieldwork.

In 1869 Dr. Leopold von Schrenck then Chief of the Imperial Academy of Sciences at Petrograd (today’s St. Petersburg Russia) published the following account about the mammoth. The mammoth ... is a gigantic beast which lives in the depths of the earth where it digs for itself dark pathways and feeds on earth ... They account for its corpse being found so fresh and well preserved on the ground that the animal is still a living one. Some even thought rapid tunneling by mammoths produced earthquakes.

A number of animals are named after Schrenck including the Shrencks Limpet Notoacmea schrenckii the Amur Sturgeon Acipenser shrenckii the Manchurian Black Water Snake Elaphe schrenckii and a butterfly Amuriana schrenckii.
Endangered Species
An animal that is considered in danger of extinction. An animal that appears on Appendix I of the Endangered Species Act of 1973.
Endangered Species Act of 1973
Provides for the conservation of species that are endangered or threatened throughout all or a significant portion of their range and the conservation of the ecosystems on which they depend. The ESA replaced the Endangered Species Conservation Act of 1969; it has been amended several times.
A species is considered endangered if it is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range. A species is considered threatened if it is likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future.

Indigenous to a specific region or area


Coming or being produced from within like pheromone secretions for instance.


The suffix -ensis indicates where a species originates from eg: Coelognathus subradiatus enganensis. This subspecies of the Subradiated Ratsnakes comes from the Island of Engano Indonesia

The decay or degradation of something.
Genetic interaction.
Latin: meaning Red
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