The Glossary

This glossary was created with those new to reptile keeping in mind, so it offers only simplified explanations for common terms that new keepers may come across on our care sheets and in the forums. If a more in depth or precise definition is required then further research is recommended.


1.2.3 (Numbers separated with full stops) – Generally seen on forum signatures to depict how many specimens of a species a person keeps and the sex of those animals. ie 1= Male 2= Female 3=Unknown sex. Example: if someone writes 0.2.1 this means they have no males, 2 females and 1 of unknown sex.


Amel – Short for amelanistic, which is a genetic term to describe a reptile without any black or brown colouration (no melanin).

Amplexus – scientific name given to the sexual coupling of Anurans (frogs and toads). During Amplexus the male grasps tightly onto the female from behind to allow fertilization to occur.

Anery – genetic term referring to a reptile without any red colouration. Short for anerythristic.

Aquatic - lives in water

Arboreal – Lives in trees. A arboreal species spends the majority of it’s time off the ground in the trees. Climbing species.

Autotomy – the ability of some reptiles to grow back a lost limb.


BCI – abbreviation of Boa Constrictor imperator.

BCC – shortened term for a Boa constrictor constrictor, which are said to be the ‘True Red Tails’ when referring to red-tail boas.

Brumation – reptile equivalent of hibernation.


Carapace – a dorsal shell. Name given to the upper domed shell on tortoises, turtles, terrapins and crustaceans.

CB – abbreviation of Captive Bred. It means that your pet was bred in captivity using parents that are also kept in captivity.

Chelonian - a name to collectively describe tortoises, turtles and terrapins.

CITES – abbreviation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. This is an international agreement that regulates thousands of species of endangered animals/plants and controls their trade and import/exportation. If a reptile requires CITES paperwork this usually means that a certificate is required to keep that animal in captivity, which proves that it has been captive bred and has not been taken from the wild.

Cloaca – more scientific name for the vent (half moon shaped opening for digestive waste disposal and sexual organs).

Crepuscular – active at twilight (dawn and dusk).


Diurnal – active by day. Opposite of nocturnal.

DWA – abbreviation of the Dangerous Wild Animals Act, which refers to list of controlled animals that potentially pose a risk to human safety. A license is needed to keep any of the animals on that list.


Ectothermic – cold blooded. Ectothermic animals source their body heat from their surroundings.

Estivation (or Aestivation) – similar to hibernation except dormancy occurs during hot or dry seasons to remain hydrated or escape the heat.


Faunarium (Faun) – plastic enclosure with fitted, air-holed lid, most commonly used with hatchling snakes and lizards or small exotics such as insects.

FK – short for Fresh Killed. Refers to feeding a recently deceased rodent to a reptile so that the mouse/rat is still warm when offered to your pet.

Flexarium – type of reptile enclosure, full or partly made from mesh screening for species that require plenty of ventilation.

Fossorial – burrowing species. Spends a lot of time underground, so requires deep substrate.

Fuzzy – relates to a size of a rodent prey item, and is the name given to a rodent that has just reached the ‘fur growing’ stage of development.

F/T – abbreviation of frozen/thawed. Usually used in reference to food items that are bought and stored frozen, but are defrosted before feeding to your pet.


Gravid – Reptile equivalent of being pregnant. A gravid female would be carrying fertilised eggs.

Gut-loading – the process of feeding insects that are destined to become a prey item with nutrious food 24 hours prior to feeding them to your pets, so that they pass on the additional benefits when digested.


Hatchling – a newly hatched reptile, equivalent of a baby.

Hemipenes – dual sex organs. Common in male snakes and lizards.

Herbivorous - only eats plant matter, such as leaves, vegetables, flowers etc.

Herps/Herpetiles – a collective name to cover all species of reptile and amphibian.

Herpetology – the study of Reptiles and Amphibians.

Het – heterozygous. A genetic term meaning that reptile carries a recessive gene for a morph. A het can appear completely normal, yet still pass on the gene for a certain morph to it’s offspring.

Hots – venomous snakes. If a snake is described as being ‘hot’ then it means it is a venomous species.

Husbandry – a term used to describe the everyday care of an animal. Good husbandry requires fulfilling all of your pets requirements by keeping their enclosures clean, providing fresh food and water daily and generally monitoring the health and well being of an animal regularly.

Hygrometer – a device for measuring humidity.


Impaction - a blockage in the digestive tract, usually caused when a reptile or amphibian has ingested something that it can not break down during digestion i.e. substrate, gravel etc. Seeking veterinary advice is advised if you believe your pet is impacted.

Insectivorous - eats insects.


Juvenile – sub-adult. A animal that is not quite an adult. Not of breedable age.


Larvae – plural of larva. The name given to some insects and amphibians in the pre-metamorphosis stage of development. E.g. tadpoles are the larvae of frogs/toads, while caterpillars are butterfly larvae.

Leucistic – term used in genetics to describe a white animal with dark eyes.

LTC – abbreviation of Long Term Captive. Usually means that an animal was originally collected from the wild, but has adapted well and remained in captivity for a long time.


MBD – Metabolic Bone Disease. A disorder that can affect reptiles and amphibians that do not have sufficient calcium within their diet. Calcium is vital for healthy bone formation and deformities can arise from poor nutrition, particularly during rapid growth.

Metamorphosis – a process of change, which may severely alter the appearance, behaviour and lifestyle of that creature. Life stage transition between being a child (larva) and adult (frog/butterfly/salamander etc).

Musking - a defense mechanism where a snake secretes a small amount of foul smelling liquid from it's vent when frightened or agitated. This musk is not harmful, but can be quite unpleasant, so washing your hands with anti-bacterial handwash afterwards is advised.


Omnivorous - a omnivore does not stick to one type of food, meaning that it may eat insects, plant matter or other animals.

Oviparous – egg bearing. The female will lay eggs.

Ovoviviparous – developing eggs are retained inside the female’s body until hatching.


Pinkie – newborn rodent. The smallest size available when purchasing pre-killed rodents for food.

PK – Pre-killed. Refers to the process of not feeding live rodents to your reptile.

Popping – Term given to a procedure to determine sex in hatchlings. This should only be performed by experienced keepers.

Probing – Technique used on adult snakes and some lizards, where a prone is inserted into the vent to determine sex. Not to be carried out by beginners.


Regurge - short for regurgitation. Snakes will occassionally regurge a half-digested prey item if stressed, ill or given a unsuitably sized meal. A regurge can be avoided by not handling your snake for the first 48 hours after a feed.

R.I – Respiratory Infection. This is a disease that is quite common in reptiles that have been kept in poor conditions, low temperatures or incorrect humidity. veterinary treatment is required.

RUB – Really Useful Box. Plastic tub or box available from stationers that can be easily converted into a reptile enclosure.


Shake & Bake – slang saying to describe a method of coating a feeder insect with calcium and vitamin powder before feeding to your pet. This involves placing the insect in a tub with the powder and shaking until covered completely.

Sloughing – another name for shedding.

Sub-adult – refers to a reptile that is not fully grown or of breeding age, yet may resemble an adult, but in miniature form.

Substrate – material that lines the bottom of a reptile or amphibian enclosure. Popular choices include aspen, eco-earth, bark chips and reptile carpet.

Stat – short for thermostat. Essential equipment in reptile keeping.


Tag/Tagged – slang term for a bite or being bitten.

Terrarium – type of reptile enclosure, usually for terrestrial species that appreciate soil-type substrates.

Terrestrial – Terrestrial species live on the ground and rarely climb.

Thermo-regulation – Cold-blooded animals thermo-regulate, which means they control their own body temperature by moving from hot or cold surroundings as necessary.


Vent - common and widely used name for a reptile's Cloaca (see above)

Vivarium (viv) – a glass fronted enclosure for keeping reptiles in.

Viviparous – gives birth to live young.


WC – abbreviation of Wild Caught.

Weaner – a food size term for a sub-adult rodent.

WF – abbreviation of Wild Farmed. This generally means that the parents were wild, but the female was collected and her eggs/young were born in captivity.


Yearling – a reptile that is around a year old. Sub-adult/juvenile.


Zoonosis - a disease that can be passed from animal to man. In reptile keeping Salmonella is a possible zoonosis.

TheReptilian Forum Glossary

Here are a few abbreviations you might come across on forum specifically as they relate to our sister sites.






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