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Glossary of Herpetological Terms

... compiled by Dave Royans & Sue Knight
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Term Definition
The kind of  place where a plant or animal naturally lives.

Considered to be possibly the simplest form of learning where usually adverse responses are greatly reduced to a single stimulus over a period of time.


When a species is first described an individual specimen is allocated the tag of halotype which bears the name of a species. The purpose of which is to adhere the name to an individual taxon should later research bring to light the proposed genus was actually composed of more than one species. In other words to provide stability (to a certain extent) in the allocation of taxonomic names to species described.

Greek: Meaning Half
The paired sexual organ of male snakes and lizards. When sexually aroused one half of the hemipenes a hemipenis protrudes externally out of the vent and is used in copulation. Sperm passes into the female via a partly or fully enclosed groove during mating. When not in use the organ is turned inside out and withdrawn inside the vent behind the opening.Differences in hemipene structure are frequently used to aid in classification of species and subspecies.

A single protusion of a reptiles paired sexual organ. One half of the organ is used during copulation.

A slang term for any and all species of reptile and amphibian. Also used as a verb meaning to look for reptiles amphibians or crocodilians. (To go herping)
Herpetoculture is the art of keeping amphibians turtles reptiles and crocodilians in captivity in order to breed them for pleasure exhibition study trade or sale.
A person who keeps and makes serious efforts to breed from their reptiles in captivity.
Pertaining to herpetology.

Strickly meaning a zoologist studying ectothermic animals. The term is also applied to non acedemics who study ectothermic animals sometimes often attributed with less justification to those who just keep reptiles.

Comes from the Greek herpeton meaning creep now associated with meaning reptiles and amphibians and logos meaning reason/explaining. A term used to describe a dicipline of zoology dealing with ectothermic organisms which rely on their environment to regulate their own body temperature and functions.
One who dissects or studies the anatomy of reptiles

A characteristic that is specific to another species for instance a novel striping on a neonate caused by incorrect incubation temperatures that is reminiscent of patterning of another species could be said to be hetrospecific.


Hibernacula (plural) - Places where reptiles seek refuge to safely see out winter from cold temperatures and to evade freezing.

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