Mar 4, 2008: Introduction to the Moon Snail, part 1

Tideflat Critters

Moon Snail on wintry low tide

Lewis' Moon Snails (Euspira lewisii), the largest moon snails in the world, are named after Merriweather Lewis, who first saw them at the mouth of the Columbia River. Moon snails like low, sandy beaches. The big slimy appendage sticking out of the shell is exactly that: a mucous-covered foot. The snail uses the foot to glide through water, burrow in sand, or to immobilize clams as it feeds on them. Moon snails, like all snails, are gastropods.

Moon snail from side

Below: the moon snail's least flattering angle.

Moon snail from below

We've heard, but find it hard to believe, that moon snails are 'relished' in Norway. Hopefully the species of moon snail found in Europe is more appetizing than the Northwest's Euspira lewisii. If there's anyone out there who's ever eaten moon snail, and enjoyed it, please tell us about it.

Moon snails are a drill snail, which means that somewhere in that mucous-covered foot there's a sandpaper-like tongue that the snail uses to drill through the shells of its prey (normally clams). Before it starts drilling, the snail secretes a chemical that dissolves and softens the clam shell. Moon snails seem to really, really like butter clams, but they also eat cockles, horse clams, and even other moon snails. The main predator of the moon snail is the twenty-rayed starfish.

Discarded moon snail shells, which litter the tideflats, make great tchotchkes. Or, if you're a hermit crab, great homes.

moon snail shell

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  • hhhhhhh on

    wat the f***

  • scott & trish on

    by the way, LOL Boris

  • scott & trish on

    We found these in the hood canal, part of the puget sound. we couldn’t find anyone who knew if they were edible, but we tried them anyway. We just put them on the grill over the campfire. there was a mussely part that was good, kind of like calamari. the rest just tasted like guts.

  • Meet the Newest Interns at the Aquarium « Woods Hole Science Aquarium on

    […] more closely related to spiders…go figure.) Emma’s favorite touch-tank activity is cuddling moon snails. My favorite touch tank activity is coloring on the “Draw what you sea” board. Just made that […]

  • Oyster Fan on

    You’re welcome Faith! Let me know if you or your kids have any questions, and I’ll do my best to answer them.

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