Tortoise Glossary Terms

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Glossary Terms:  C


Abnormal hardening caused by deposits of calcium salts.

Calcium (Ca):   

A mineral found mainly in the hard part of bones, where it is stored.  Calcium is essential for healthy bones and tortoises require substantial amounts for normal bone development.  Calcium is poorly absorbed and daily supplementation is necessary for tortoises in captivity.  It works in conjunction with phosphorus to build and maintain bones.  Lack of calcium leads to metabolic bone disease.

Calcium Carbonate (CaCO3):   

A white solid, found in nature as limestone, marble, chalk and animal shells.  Used daily as a supplement in the form of limestone flour containing 40% calcium, sprinkled on all foods.  Necessary for healthy bone growth.

Cape angulate tortoise:   

Chersina angulata.

Captive Bred (CB):   

An animal which is born or hatched in captivity and not caught from the wild.  Bred from parents who mated whilst in captivity.

Captive Farmed (CF):   

The eggs of wild caught females or tortoise eggs laid in a restricted area, and hatched within a large scale operation.

Captive Hatched (CH):   

An animal which is born or hatched in captivity from parents who mated in the wild. 


The upper, outer shell of a tortoise or turtle.

Carnivore, carnivorous:   

A creature or plant that feeds exclusively on meat.  Not usual in tortoises but frequent in freshwater turtles.


Egg tooth, used by hatchlings to help emerge from their shell.  The caruncle drops off within a few days of hatching.


Referring to the tail.


Towards the tail.

Ceramic heat emitter:   

A porcelain heating device, that screws into a standard porcelain incandescent socket.  It does not emit light but gives off intense infrared heat, which is suitable for use with reptiles.

Chaco tortoise:   

Geochelone chilensis.


Any key feature used to diagnose species or sex.


The shelled reptile group referring to tortoises, turtles and terrapins.

Chersina angulata:   

Cape angulate tortoise; Bowsprit tortoise.


The inner membrane lining of the egg shell and at the point where it fuses with the allantois it assists with the transfer of respiration and excretion of waste products.


A long duration of a disease.


Single celled parasites, dangerous to hatchlings, causing severe diarrhoea and dehydration.


The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.


A taxonomic category for a group of related animals or plants that share common characteristics.


The vent or cavity in the tail into which the urinary, alimentary and genital tracts open; used for eliminating faecal, urinary and reproductive discharges.  Also absorbs water.


A set of eggs laid by an individual parent at the same time.


Describes when an animalís body temperature and metabolism are controlled by the external temperature.  See ectothermic. 


Spasm, distention of the intestines; can lead to obstruction.


An unusual condition that is present at birth.


Members of the same species.


Difficult, incomplete, or infrequent evacuation of dry hardened faeces.  It occurs when the stool becomes hard and dry due to dehydration and insufficient fibre in the diet, and is unable to pass out of the body during a bowel movement.  It can lead to serious problems in the tortoise e.g. impaction.


Eating of faeces.


The process of mating or breeding.

Costal scutes:   

The series of plates located along the sides of a chelonians shell lying between the vertebral and marginal scutes.


Pertaining to the skull.


Active at sunset or sunrise, being most active at dawn and dusk.


A decorative ridge of skin or spikes that may occur on the neck, back and/or tail.


Transferring uneaten food from one animalís enclosure to another.

Cross infection:   

The transmission of a pathogenic organism from one animal to another by direct or indirect contact.


The animalís natural patterns and colouration which provides it with camouflage in its natural habitat.


The surface of the skin.


The shell or bone of cuttlefish, used as a calcium supplement.



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