Terrapin Terminology & Definitions
Terrapin: (TEHR uh pihn; means “Pond Turtle” Malaclemys terrapin): Brackish water or fresh water medium-sized turtles (reptiles) having greenish brown shield are known as terrapins. They belong to the family Emydidae. Mostly kept as pets. This is generally recognised as the definition of a terrapin.
Chelonian: Reptiles, including terrapins, under the order Chelonia.
Vivarium: An indoor enclosure to keep and bring up living animals or plants under the normal condition.
Terrarium: A transparent, tightly enclosed glass tank containing water to keep selected plants or animals like lizards, turtles or terrapins.
Terrapinarium: An enclosure specially made for terrapins. It contains an elevated and specially constructed island-like area where the terrapins can bask in the sunlight.
Side-necked terrapins: These are the group of terrapins, which cannot pull their head back into the shield. They turn their head sidewise and retract them on the side of shell margin.
Scute: The scale-like keratinous cover of the terrapin shell. It is sensitive to touch because of the presence of nerve endings on the surface. This makes a terrapin alert when it comes in contact of something physically. The damaged scute can again be generated by them naturally.
Interestingly, the rings on the scute can be compared to the growth-rings found in the tree stems. Like tree-rings, scute-rings can also help to detect the age of a terrapin. Throughout the growing process, scutes are normally shed by terrapins; yearly by the female and once in three to four years by a male.
Plastron: The bottom or the ventral side of the terrapin shell which lies under the chest or abdomen. Constructed by bony plates (occasionally hinged), these are hard to be broken easily. The plastron is covered by scute which makes it sensitive to touch.
Carapace: The dorsal or the upper part of the terrapin shell is called Carapace. It is decorated and easily visible as it is placed over their back.
Similar to the plastron, bony plates make the carapace too. It is attached with the backbone and the ribcage of the terrapin. The margin of the scute may not coincide with the margin of the bony plates.
Cloaca: Cloaca is the cavity where urinary, digestive and reproductive tracts open. The Respiratory (breathing) opening is also located here.
Hatchling: A new-born terrapin.
Ectothermic animals: Cold-blooded creatures whose body temperature is controlled by the surrounding environment.
Hibernate: Resting period for a cold-blooded animal during winter when the body temperature and all the metabolic activities reduce greatly.