Scientific names: the right way

Based on the frequent issues I see with how scientific names are written on the web, in the media, on tags in stores, etc… it occurs to me that perhaps many people are not even aware that there is a right way to write them. It also occurs to me that many people, even those in the hobby, may not care :slight_smile:
However, if you are interested in taxonomy (the science of classifying and naming organisms) or if you just want to look like you know what you are doing :), here is a very simplified guide to writing scientific names. One caveat though, Morph Market does not yet support italics or underlining in ads, just here in posts to the Community, but hopefully that is a feature that may be added at some point in the future.

Really there are only 2 important rules:

  1. Scientific names are in Latin (or Latinized version of words from other languages), and technically should always be italicized (or underlined, but never both).
  2. When writing the name of a species, only the genus name is capitalized (no exceptions).

So, the correct form of the scientific name of the Corn Snake is: Pantherophis gutattas.

Pantherophis Gutattus is wrong
Pantherophis Gutattus is wrong
pantherophis gutattus is wrong
pantherophis Gutattus is wrong … you get the idea

And if you are throwing in a subspecies name, it gets italicized and is lower case as well (e.g., Lampropeltis getula californicus)

Hope this is helpful and interesting to a few folks out there :slight_smile:


I’m glad you pointed this out. Scientific names can sometimes get confusing (and some can be tongue twisters) but they are valuable when dealing with living creatures.

Their beauty is in the fact that in spite of a creature’s common name which can vary widely in different languages (or when something has several names) a scientific name is specific to that creature regardless of language or anything else.

For example my favorite animal of all time is the gray wolf. While called that in English, they are called Lobo in spanish, Lupo in Italian, Ookami in Japanese etc…but their taxanomic (scientific) name Canis lupus remains the same regardless across the board.

I think understanding the taxonomy of different creatures helps make them more enjoyable to keep and work with and is valuable knowledge as taxanomy generally aims to group living beings together based on how related they are to each other.

Actually they are all wrong because I misspelled Pantherophis guttatus :joy:


Ha! Now we get to make fun of you for being wrong on the internet!

Thanks for the refresher. Taxonomy is quite an interesting subject

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Indeed it is…just a neat lil way to categorise creatures based off of where they sit on the tree of life and who shares the particular branch with them.

Naw dont stress it. I think theres still a bunch of places that sometimes still list it as Elaphe even though it was moved to Pantherophis.

Taxanomic names can be a real headache to remember sometimes on top of being a tongue twister.

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I’m horrible at remembering scientific names. I know leopard geckos are Em initials. I’m pretty sure crested geckos are Correlophus cititus (I checked and it’s Correlophus ciliatus). And I post on tarantula forums that only use latin names (I only know first letter last word of about 5).

Yeah scientific names for T’s can be challenging to remember/say. Funny because they are such simple creatures and yet some get these complicated names.

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Does anyone know how MM chooses what taxonomy they follow? I have noticed a few names that are possibly out of date. For example, I think Eryx is the accepted genus name for Kenyan (and other related) Sand Boas (rather thanGongylophis).

…and yes, formalized scientific names are crucial for accurate communication between scientists that speak different languages.


I think it’s based on user suggestions. If you notice an error you can let a staff member know.