Cone snails

This page has the cone snails, the related pages are listed in the table at the bottom of the page. there are about 500 species of cone snail in the world. Many cone snails are venomous. The venom is a neurotoxin used to immobilise their prey. These snails should not be handled while the animal is alive unless you are an expert.

Marbled cone, Conus marmoreus below. is found in the Indo-Pacific, from 1 - 30 m deep, in lagoons on coral reefs, sand, under rocks and in weeds. It is found in the Indo-Pacific region. Its venom is strong enough to kill an adult human. It feeds on various invertebrates including other cone snails. Fully grown specimens are about 15 cm long.

Marbled cone snail, Conus marmoreus

Marbled cone snail

Striate cone below is found in the Indo-Pacific in sand and under coral. Fully grown its length reaches around 11.5 cm. It emerges at night to hunt fish and worms.

Striate cone shell, marine snail shell

Below, the Prometheus cone or Butterfly cone, Conus prometheus. Found in the Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean. Size around 140 x 65 mm.

, marine snail

Tesselate cone, Conus tesselatus, below, has a length of 6.5 cm when fully grown. It is found in the Indo-Pacific region up to 20 m deep in sheltered environments around coral reefs where it burrows into the sand. It is predatory and venomous.

Tesselate cone shell, Conus tesselatus, marine snail

The Beech cone, Conus betulinus, below.

Zigzag nerite, Neritina communis on the right are found in the Philippines and western Pacific, often among mangroves. As can be seen in the photograph the colours and patterns are very variable.

Zigzag nerite, Neritina communis

Fish-hunting cone shell, Conus tulipa

fish-hunting cone snail, Conus tulipa

The Fish-hunting cone shell is above. It is found from Mozambique to Somalia, across to the Marshall Islands and French Polynesia in shallow waters, in sand, under coral and among seaweed. It is predatory and venomous. A fully grown individual can reach 50 - 95 mm. Its mouth, the beige thing, fans out to a large funnel shape and the prey is lured inside. As well as fish it eats other molluscs.

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Conus geographus, Geography cone, Geographer cone

Conus geographus, highly venomous cone snail

Conus geographus, above, has a highly venomous sting that can be fatal to humans, and is considered to be the most venomous animal in the world. As yet there is no anti venom for the sting, so the only treatment for a person who has been stung is to try to keep the victim alive until the hundreds of toxins in the venom have worn off. It is found in reefs in the tropical Indo-Pacific where it preys on small fish. Fully grown individuals reach 10 - 15 cm long.

Research into the venom of this snail has found that it contains a protein painkiller more potent than morphine, and without the addictive and side effects of morphine.

Conus geographus fires a hollow, venom-tipped dart which is attached to its proboscis into its prey, and the prey is immobilised within 1 or 2 seconds. Then pulls the prey in for digestion. The proboscis opens and expands to envelop the prey. The snail has 2 main hunting methods, the first is to wave its proboscis to attract a fish which it then stings, the second is to open out its proboscis, then close it enveloping the fish and then stinging it. During the day the snail stays buried in the sand and sediment of the reef, emerging at night to hunt.

Related pages