Glossary

A small glossary for those who do not know snake terms!
  • Anal - refers to a scale in the region of the cloaca in squamates. The terminal plate in the ventral series. It can be divided or entire and is normally larger than the ventrals.
  • Anterior - near the front
  • Antivenom - serum extracted from animals hyperimmunised with snake venom. Used to negate the effects of snake venom.
  • Aquatic - living in water, mainly.
  • Arboreal - living in trees, mainly.
  • Cardiotoxin - a poison that can cause the heart muscles to cease functioning.
  • Caudal - pertaining to the tail.
  • Cloaca - the chamber from which urinary and digestive waste is passed. It is under the anal plate. The organs of reproduction are also found here.
  • Clutch - the batch of eggs laid by a female at a given time.
  • Crepuscular - active mainly at dawn and dusk.
  • Cytotoxic - a poison capable of destroying body tissue and cell formation.
  • Diurnal - active mainly during the daytime.
  • Dorsal - the upper part of a snake's body. All the scales except the ventrals.
  • Elapid - rigidly front-fanged snakes. In SA the cobras, mambas, rinkhals coral snakes and sea snake.
  • Endemic - species peculiar to a particular area. Not found elsewhere.
  • Envenomation - a snake bite where venom has actually been injected.
  • Haemotoxic - a poison that destroys red blood cells.
  • Hatchling - a newborn snake.
  • Hemipenis - on of a pair of copulatory organs present in male snakes.
  • Herpetology - the study of reptiles
  • Herpetoculture - the keeping and husbandry of reptiles.
  • Incubation - keeping eggs warm so that they will hatch.
  • Jacobson's organ - the organ providing the snake with its sense of smell and taste. Located in the roof of the mouth the snake presses its forked tongue into it to smell and taste. The tongue has gathered the aromas from outside.
  • Keel - a prominent ridge on the scale, running longitudinally. Found in some snakes.
  • Labial - pertaining to the lips.
  • Lateral - pertaining to the sides of the body.
  • Loreal - a scale on the head between the nasals and pre-oculars.
  • Montane - living in mountain areas, mainly.
  • Nasal - pertaining to the nose.
  • Necrosis - death of cells and body tissue in a localised area.
  • Neurotoxic - a poison that affects the nervous system. Especially neuro-muscular activity.
  • Nocturnal - mainly active at night.
  • Oviduct - the tube which carries eggs from the ovary.
  • Oviparous - egg-laying.
  • Ovoviviparous - giving live birth to eggs hatched within the uterus.
  • Parietal - scales located on the head, immediately behind the frontals. Usually the last scales separate from the body scales.
  • Posterior - the back part.
  • Postocular - bordering the eye, posteriorly.
  • Prefrontal - a scale on the head.
  • Preocular - bordering the eye, anteriorly.
  • Recurved - a tooth that bends backwards.
  • Rhombic - having diamond shaped patterns.
  • Riverine - living mainly near rivers.
  • Rostral - the scale at the front of the nose of a snake.
  • Scale - a thin horny plate that covers the body of reptiles and fish.
  • Sloughing - the casting or shedding of the outer skin.
  • Subcaudal - the ventral scales from the anal plate to the tip of the tail.
  • Terrestrial - living mainly on the ground.
  • Ventral - the bottom part of the snake.
Back to the Index Page.
Copyright: Séan Thomas & Eugene Griessel - Dec 1999.