- Aquarium: A glass or acrylic tank filled with water in which aquatic turtles live.
- Aquatic Plants: Live plants placed in the turtle’s habitat that can provide food and help maintain water quality.
- Aquatic Turtle: A turtle that spends the majority of its life in the water.
- Amazon Swords: A type of freshwater aquatic plant often used in turtle tanks because it can tolerate the conditions and provides cover for turtles.
- Anal Scutes: Plates on the rear part of a turtle’s plastron, with the shape differing between males and females, often wider in females.
- Annuli: Growth rings on the scutes of tortoises, similar to rings in a tree, indicating age although not always accurate due to varying growth rates.
- Anterior: The front, or head-end, of the turtle where the head protrudes from the shell.
- Antibiotic: Medication used to treat bacterial infections, sometimes required for turtle health issues such as respiratory or shell infections.
- Air Temperature (AT): The temperature of the surrounding air, which can affect a turtle’s behavior and physiology.
- Basking Area: A warm, dry spot in the turtle habitat where the turtle can rest, typically equipped with a heat lamp.
- Basking Lamp: A lamp that provides heat and possibly UVB light to simulate the sun’s warmth, aiding in the turtle’s thermoregulation.
- Brackish Water: Water that has more salinity than freshwater but not as much as seawater, suitable for certain types of aquatic turtles.
- Beak: The hard, pointed mouthpart of turtles, used for eating; it is sharp in carnivorous species and more blunt in herbivores.
- Bridges: The parts of the shell that connect the top (carapace) and bottom (plastron), found on the sides of the turtle.
- Breeder: An individual who mates turtles to produce offspring, often with the intent of studying genetics or supplying the pet trade.
- Breeding: The process of reproduction in turtles, involving courtship, mating, and egg-laying.
- Body Mass (BM): The weight of a turtle, often used as an indicator of health and maturity.
- Body Temperature (BT): The internal temperature of a turtle, which can vary with external conditions due to their ectothermic nature.
- Calcium Powder: A supplement used to dust turtle food to ensure proper shell and bone development.
- Carnivorous: Describes turtles that eat primarily meat, such as fish or insects.
- Co-habitation: Keeping more than one turtle in the same habitat.
- Commercial Food: Specially formulated pellets or sticks for turtles that provide a balanced diet.
- Carapace: The upper, dome-shaped part of a turtle’s shell, consisting of fused bones covered by scutes.
- Caudal: Refers to the tail end of the turtle, where the tail protrudes from the shell.
- Chelonian: A scientific term encompassing all turtles, tortoises, and terrapins.
- CITES: Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, important for regulating the sale and trade of endangered turtles to ensure their conservation.
- Cloaca: The single opening for the intestinal, urinary, and genital tracts in turtles, used for excretion and reproduction.
- Clutch: A group of eggs laid by a female turtle at one time, which can range from a few to several dozen depending on the species.
- Curved Carapace Length (CCL): The measurement of a turtle’s shell from the neck to the tail along the curve of the shell.
- Detritus: Waste or debris of any kind. In a turtle tank, it refers to the organic matter produced by the turtle and uneaten food that can deteriorate water quality.
- Diurnal: Active during daylight hours, which applies to many turtle species that bask and feed during the day.
- Ecosystem: A biological community of interacting organisms and their environment, which for turtles can include aquatic, terrestrial, and marine systems.
- Ectothermic: Another term for cold-blooded, referring to how turtles, like other reptiles, regulate their body temperature externally.
- Endangered species: A species that is at risk of extinction, which includes many turtle species due to habitat loss, poaching, and other factors.
- Estivate: A state of dormancy in turtles during high temperatures to avoid overheating and dehydration, similar to hibernation in cold weather.
- Extinction: The dying out of a species, a permanent loss with significant ecological impact; several turtle species are facing this threat.
- Environmental/Ambient Temperature (ET): The temperature of the turtle’s surroundings, influencing its thermoregulation.
- Full Spectrum Lighting: Artificial lighting that simulates natural sunlight, providing both UVA and UVB rays which are essential for turtle health.
- Filter: A device used to clean the water in a turtle’s aquarium by removing waste products and ensuring the water is suitable for the turtle’s health.
- Full spectrum light: Lighting that provides both UVA and UVB rays, essential for turtle health, aiding in vitamin D3 synthesis and proper shell growth.
- Gestation: The period between conception and birth in turtles; however, since turtles lay eggs, this term is less commonly used than “incubation.”
- Gravid: Pregnant; carrying eggs. A female turtle that has developed eggs is gravid until she lays them.
- Gular: The projection from the plastron under the head of some turtles, part of the gular scute, which can play a role in protection and mate attraction.
- Genetic Sex Determination (GSD): The mechanism where sex is determined by chromosomes at the time of fertilization.
- Heat Lamp: A lamp designed to provide heat to the turtle’s basking area but does not necessarily emit UVB light.
- Hiding Places: Structures or areas within the habitat where turtles can hide for security and stress relief.
- Habitat: The natural environment of a turtle, which can be freshwater, marine, or terrestrial.
- Hatchling: A newly emerged turtle from an egg, usually very small and vulnerable, requiring special conditions to survive.
- Herbivore: A turtle that eats primarily plants; some species change their diet as they age from carnivorous juveniles to herbivorous adults.
- Herpetoculture: The breeding and keeping of reptiles and amphibians as a hobby, which includes the care of turtles in home environments.
- Herpetologist: A scientist who studies reptiles and amphibians, including turtles, often involved in conservation and research efforts.
- Hibernation: The state of reduced metabolism turtles enter in cold weather, allowing them to survive winter conditions.
- Hybrid: The offspring resulting from the breeding of two different species or subspecies of turtles, often with mixed characteristics.
- Hydration: The absorption of water, essential for turtle health; dehydration can be a significant health issue for captive turtles.
- Infrared Lamp: A lamp that emits infrared heat, used to provide warmth to turtles, especially during the night or in colder environments.
- Incubation: The period of development for turtle eggs, either in a nest or in an incubator, which requires precise temperature and humidity to produce healthy hatchlings.
- Insectivore: A turtle that primarily eats insects, which is common in many young turtles and some adult species.
- Incubation Period (IP): The time span from when a turtle egg is laid until it hatches.
- Incubation Temperature (IT): The temperature at which turtle eggs are maintained during the incubation period, critical for proper development.
Jaw: The part of a turtle’s mouth that contains the beak and is used for grasping and chewing food.
Keel: A raised ridge on the carapace of some turtle species, which can help with stability in water or camouflage.
Keratin: The protein that makes up the scutes of the turtle’s shell, as well as human hair and nails.
- Land Area: A dry section in the turtle habitat where terrestrial or semi-aquatic turtles can spend time out of the water.
- Lighting Cycle: The cycle of light and dark in the turtle habitat that simulates natural day and night periods.
- Lek: A communal area where males gather to display and attract females, more common in birds and not applicable to turtles.
- Long Term Captive (LTC): A turtle that has been kept in captivity for an extended period, affecting its behavior and potentially its physiology.
- Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD): A condition caused by insufficient calcium, phosphorus, or Vitamin D3, leading to weakened bones and shell.
- Melanism: A genetic trait causing increased black pigmentation, which can occur in some turtle populations, leading to darker individuals.
- Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA): The DNA found in mitochondria, inherited only from the mother, used for studies of maternal lineage and genetic diversity.
- Nesting: The process by which a female turtle lays her eggs, involving selecting a site, digging a hole, and covering the eggs after deposition.
- Nocturnal: Active during nighttime hours; applies to turtle species that are primarily active at night to feed or mate.
- Nuclear DNA (nDNA): The DNA contained within the nucleus of a cell, representing the majority of the organism’s genetic material and inherited from both parents.
- Omnivore: A turtle that has a diet composed of both plant and animal matter.
- Oviparous: Egg-laying; a reproductive method where the female turtle deposits eggs that hatch outside of the body.
- Paludarium: A type of habitat that combines both terrestrial and aquatic elements, suitable for semi-aquatic turtles.
- pH Level: The measure of acidity or alkalinity of the water in the turtle’s tank.
- Protein Skimmer: A device used in water filtration for marine aquaria that removes organic compounds before they decompose into nitrogenous waste.
- Periscoping: When a turtle stretches its neck and head vertically out of the water to look around, often while remaining submerged.
- Plastron: The flat part of the turtle’s shell that covers the underside, offering protection to the belly and containing scutes that can identify sex in some species.
- Prolapse: A health condition where an internal organ (like the cloaca or intestine) protrudes outside the body, which can be serious and require veterinary care.
- Prophylactic: Preventative measures or treatments to protect turtles from diseases, such as regular health check-ups and clean habitats.
- Protozoa: Single-celled organisms that can cause diseases in turtles, such as flagellates found in dirty water conditions.
Quarantine: Isolating a new or sick turtle to prevent the spread of disease to other animals.
- Reptile Carpet: A substrate option for turtle habitats that is easy to clean and replace.
- Rostrum: The beak-like structure at the front of a turtle’s head, often used to describe the mouth area.
- Rasping: The act of scraping food, which turtles do with their beaks when eating, especially useful for tearing apart plant material or flesh.
- Reptile: The class of animals that turtles belong to, characterized by scaly skin, ectothermy, and typically laying eggs.
- Semi-aquatic Turtle: A turtle that lives both on land and in water.
- Spectrometer: A tool that measures the spectrum of light, sometimes used by advanced keepers to ensure proper lighting conditions.
- Scute: The individual plates that make up the shells of turtles, made of keratin, and sometimes showing growth rings called annuli.
- Sea turtle: A group of turtles adapted to life in the ocean, known for their long migrations and, in some species, mass nestings called arribadas.
- Semi-terrestrial: Turtles that spend a considerable amount of time on land but also require access to water for various activities.
- Shell: The hard, bony external covering of turtles, providing protection and support, consisting of the carapace on top and plastron on the bottom.
- Substrate: The material that lines the bottom of a turtle’s habitat, which can range from sand and gravel to commercial bedding products.
- Suture: The lines where the bony plates of the shell (under the scutes) come together, which can be seen on the carapace and plastron.
- Straight-line Carapace Length (SCL): The measurement of a turtle’s shell from the neck to the tail along a straight line, ignoring the curvature.
- Thermoregulation: The process by which turtles regulate their body temperature through behaviors such as basking.
- Turtle Dock: A floating platform where aquatic turtles can rest and bask.
- Turtle Ramp: An incline that provides turtles with easy access to their basking area.
- TED: Turtle Excluder Device; used in fishing nets to allow captured sea turtles to escape and thus reduce bycatch mortality.
- Terrapin: A term used for certain species of small, semi-aquatic turtles that live in fresh or brackish water.
- Terrarium: An enclosure for keeping terrestrial reptiles, which may have plants and other features to simulate a natural environment.
- Terrestrial: Land-dwelling, as opposed to aquatic or semi-aquatic; some turtles, like tortoises, are fully terrestrial.
- Tortoise: Land-dwelling chelonians with high-domed shells and elephantine legs, adapted for a life spent primarily on land.
- Turtle: Cold-blooded reptiles with bony shells for protection, living both in water and on land.
- Temperature-Dependant Sex Determination (TSD): A process in some turtles where the sex is determined by the incubation temperature of the eggs.
- Ultraviolet Light (UV): A type of light necessary for most turtles’ health, aiding in the synthesis of vitamin D3.
- UVA Light: Part of the UV light spectrum that stimulates appetite, activity, and reproductive behavior in turtles.
- Underwatering: Providing insufficient water for aquatic turtles, potentially leading to dehydration and other health issues.
- UVB light: Part of UV light crucial for turtles to synthesize vitamin D3, helping in calcium absorption and overall health.
- Vitamin Supplement: Additional vitamins provided to turtles to ensure a balanced diet and prevent deficiencies.
- Vent: An opening for waste elimination in turtles, also known as the cloaca.
- Vermiculite: A mineral used in incubating turtle eggs by maintaining a humid environment.
- Veterinarian: A medical professional specialized in animal health who can provide care and treatment to turtles.
- Vitamin A deficiency: A common health issue in turtles leading to eye problems, skin disorders, and respiratory issues.
- Vitamin D3: A vitamin produced by turtles when exposed to UVB light, essential for calcium metabolism.
- Vitamin K deficiency: A rare nutritional deficiency in turtles that can cause bleeding disorders.
- Vivarium: An enclosed area like an aquarium or terrarium designed to provide a controlled environment for turtles to live.
- Water Conditioner: A chemical used to treat tap water to make it safe for turtles by removing chlorine, chloramines, and heavy metals.
- Water Heater: A device used to maintain a consistent water temperature in the turtle’s habitat
- Waste: The excrement or refuse produced by turtles, which needs to be regularly cleaned from their habitat.
- Water conditions: The quality parameters of water, such as temperature, pH, and cleanliness, crucial for the health of aquatic turtles.
- Water hyacinth: An aquatic plant that can provide food and habitat for turtles, but may also be invasive in some ecosystems.
- Water lettuce: A floating aquatic plant often used in turtle tanks to provide shelter and aid in water filtration.
- Xeric: An environment with very little moisture; xeric conditions are typically unsuitable for most turtle species.
- Yearling: A turtle that is approximately one year old, no longer a hatchling but not yet fully mature.
- Yolk sac: A nutrient-rich sac that provides food to a developing embryo, which can still be attached to a hatchling turtle after birth.
- Zoonotic: Diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans; some turtle species can carry zoonotic pathogens like Salmonella.