Tortoise Glossary Terms

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Glossary Terms:  P

Pancake Tortoise:    

Malacochersus tornieri.


An organism that lives and grows on or in other organism.  A parasite cannot live independently.  It takes nourishment from its host while contributing nothing to the hosts survival.


Glandular structure secreting parathyroid hormone, used in calcium metabolism.

Parathyroid hormone:   

Aids calcium absorption from the gut and increases blood calcium levels by initiating reabsorption of calcium from bone, which can result in decreased bone density (metabolic bone disease).


Drug administration other than by the mouth or the rectum, e.g. via injection or infusion.


Disease-causing organism e.g. a bacterium or a virus.


Apparent similarity on the basis of external characters.


The visible external characteristics of an animal e.g. appearance, behaviour etc. which can be passed on through the genes to subsequent generations.  See genotype.


A day/night cycle of light/dark stimulating the natural day and night cycle.  Important for the health and well being of animals in captivity.


Pertaining to evolutionary relationships.  The evolutionary history of a species, genus, or group.

Pinworms (Oxyurus sp.): 

Small nematode worms of the family Oxyuridae that is common in tortoises.  Pinworms have a direct life cycle and are acquired by drinking or eating faecal contaminated food and water. They are parasitic and can cause an obstruction in the intestinal canal where they reside.  It may be difficult to know the existence of them, until they are passed in the faeces.


The breaking open of an egg shell by the hatchling inside.  Most hatchlings are equipped with a special egg tooth, or caruncle, a sharp protuberance on their upper beak, used to pierce and cut a tear in the shell.


The underside of the chelonian shell.

Ploughshare tortoise:   

Geochelone Yniphora, Angonoko tortoise.


An animal whose body temperature varies with the temperature of the ambient environment.  See ectothermic.


A group of the same species living in a discreet geographical area.


The rear or back part.

Polymorphism, polymorphic:   

An occurrence of more than 2 types of colours, patterns, or presence of body parts in a particular species. See also dimorphism.

Preferred Optimum (PO): 

Within a range of temperatures in which normal metabolic activity occurs.  Most reptiles have a PO temperature range between 20C - 35 C.

Psammobates geometricus:

Geometric tortoise.

Psammobates tentorius: 

Tent tortoise.

Protected species: 

A species that is protected by law and cannot be legally captured or harmed without a specific licence to do so.



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