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Glossary of Herpetological Terms

... compiled by Dave Royans & Sue Knight
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Term Definition
Family in taxonomy is a grouping of animals for example Colubridae (colubrids) that all ratsnakes belong to.

Enlarged teeth usually grooved or hollow to varying degrees and used for the administration of venom in defence and predation.


The ability to produce young and contribute to the species usually expressed as the number (or percentage) of offspring produced by a mother snake.


Meaning according to in reference of followed by a reference for instance; fide Schulz (according to Schulz).

Generations of progeny in a genetic breeding project. Unrelated animals in the parental (P) generation are mated to produce the first filial (F1) generation. Two F1 individuals are mated (brother x sister) to produce the second filial (F2) generation.
A species that best suits a particular environmental niche or demonstrates environmental plasticity (one that can cope with multiple environments). It does not mean the strongest fastest biggest etc. as these characteristics may not always prove to be advantageous within a populations’ environment.

Scientifically fecundity multiplied by survival. The ability to pass on genes via offspring to the next generation.

Fossorial - term used to describe living underground or burrowing behaviour.

Frenal pertaining to the loreal scale or plate.

Commonly used for a scale situated between the Loreal and the Preocular scales or in snakes between the Loreal and the eye.

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