Box Turtle Care Glossary

Box Turtle Glossary and technical terms cover image

This section provides an overview of terms used on this page and in turtle care in general that may not be self-explanators. The terms are listed alphabetically.

AMBIENT TEMPERATURE – Surrounding temperature; room air temperature

ASPIRATE – Inhaling fluids into the lungs

AQUATIC – Lives in, or mostly in, water

BASKING LIGHT – A light or overhead heating element that produces an area of higher heat in an enclosure; required by the reptile for digestion

BEAK – Hard or bony mouthparts on chelonians

BRUMMATION – Torpor induced by prolonged periods of low temperatures

CARAPACE – Top part of shell in turtles and tortoisesCAUDALTowards the tail end of the body

CHELONIAN – Collective term referring to turtles and tortoises

CLOACA – Passage used for eliminating fecal, urinary and reproductive discharges

DEHYDRATION – Reduction of water in body tissues and blood; can be life-threatening

DIURNAL – Active during the day

DYSTOCIA – Abnormal or difficult labor or egg laying

ECTOPARASITE – Parasites living outside (or on) the body

ECTOTHERMIC – “Cold-blooded”-body temperature varies according to ambient external temperatures

ECTOTHERM – Having to regulate internal body temperature by seeking out different external heat sources

ENDOPARASITE – Parasites living inside the body

ESTIVATION – Torpor brought on by extended periods of drought or heat

GLOTTIS – Opening at the back of the tongue leading into the trachea (wind pipe)

HERPETOLOGY – The study of reptiles and amphibians

HERPA – reptile or amphibian. “Herpers” refers to people who are interested in or who keep herps. Herpetoculture refers to the keeping and breeding of herps

HEPATIC – Relating to the liver

HIBERNATION – Torpor brought on by extended cold temperatures

HYPOVITAMINOSIS – A condition of vitamin deficiency

INGUINAL POCKETS – The area of concealed skin between the legs and shell of turtles

KEEL – The ridge of keratin found on the midline of the carapace of Terrapene carolina

MANDIBLE – Lower jaw

MAXILLA – Upper jaw

MEDIAL – Toward the midline (center) of the body

NECROTIC – Dead skin or tissue, often the result of burns or infection

NEPHROTOXIC – Chemically damaging to the kidneys

OMNIVORES – Eats live prey and plants

OSTEOMALACIA – Softening of the bones

OVIPAROUS – Reproduces by laying eggs

PATHOGEN – Disease-causing organism

PHOTOPERIOD – Day/night cycle of light/dark

PLASTRON – The bottom part of a turtle or tortoise shell

PROLAPSE – Expulsion of internal organ from the vent; can be harmful

RENAL – Relating to the kidneys

SCUTES – The individual segments of the turtle’s shell

SEMI-AQUATIC – Lives on land but spends some or much time in water

SUBCUTANEOUS – Just beneath the skin (as in SQ, subq, subcutaneous fluids)

TEMPERATURE GRADIENT – A range of temperature needed to enable a reptile to regulate its internal (core) body temperature

TERRESTRIAL – Lives on land

THERMOREGULATE – In reptiles, their ability to change their body temperature by moving from warm to cool places

ULTRAVIOLET (UV) LIGHT – UV is present in sunlight and is necessary for maintaining adequate levels of active vitamin D in box turtles

URATES – The non-fecal part of the excreta

VENT – Exterior opening of the cloaca; anus

VENTRAL – Towards the belly

VERTEBRATE – Animals having backbones (mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish)

Box Turtle Care Glossary
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