Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tortoise Terminology

This is a running glossary of sorts.  I will be continually adding to it as I think of new words and terms that would be of interest to the keeper of Greek Tortoises.  Please feel free to comment on either my definitions or on terms that you would like to see included (along with a suggested definition if you happen to have one).  To find uses of these words within The Greek Tortoise Guild, I suggest inputing a term into the "Search The Greek Tortoise Guild" search field at the top right of the blog.
(Note: Along with my other posts, these definitions are given as they apply to Greek Tortoises, and though many definitions are universal, these do not necessarily apply to all chelonians.)

Aestivation or Estivation--Similar to hibernation, aestivation is a period of dormancy during the hottest and driest part of the summer when food and water are most scarce.
Carapace--The upper, domed shell of the tortoise consisting of numerous scutes.
Chelonian--From the Greek word "Χελώνα" (meaning "turtle" or "tortoise"); an umbrella term that refers to all hard- or soft-shelled reptiles (turtle, tortoise, or terrapin).
Hibernation--Similar to aestivation, hibernation is a state of dormancy during the winter when temperatures are below that which allow normal activity and digestion for cold-blooded animals, and when food and water are most scarce. As I have not yet hibernated our Greek Tortoises, I have no first-hand  experience on topic. Please follow this link for an excellent article on Hibernation.
Husbandry--Referring to the practices involved in the general care for an animal. For example: "The Greek Tortoise Guild is dedicated to disseminating accurate information on Greek Tortoise Husbandry."
Plastron--The lower, relatively flat shell of the tortoise consisting of numerous scutes.
Pyramiding--A condition affecting the scutes causing them to peak, dome or 'pyramid'. Though not necessarily dangerous itself, pyramiding is cause for concern because of the more serious and unseen conditions that your Greek Tortoise is likely experiencing. For further information, please see my [exhaustive] posting on this topic here.
Scute--An individual plate that, along with numerous other scutes, constitute the large bony structures of the upper (Carapace) and lower (Plastron) shells that are so distinctive of chelonians.

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