Spindle-shaped shell, grey, brown, green or red with thin dark spiral stripes and longitudinal lines. Approximately 9 convex whorls on hell smooth with fine growth lines, and small denticles (small spines) on the inner edge of its delicate outer lip. Often with black or tan blotches. Body red, brown or black, with white speckles.
This snail eats bivalves and various other gastropods/ snails. Usually lives in sand flats and seagrass beds, especially where Turtle Grass (Thalassia testudinum) is present, at depths of up to 30 feet (10m).
The Tulip Snail reproduces sexually via copulation. During mating, the female remains in the usual upright position on the sand while the male flips over, aligning the apertures of both shells before inserting the penis into the female. Once joined, snail pairs have been known to remain attached for up to 2 hours. Mating may occur several times in one season, and some individuals have been observed to mate up to 3 times in a single week.
Unusually the tulip snail are known as direct developers. Instead of developing as plankton, the offspring of these species are contained in eggs or eggs cases, often attached to a hard surface during development, before finally emerging as miniature versions of the adult.
Females will produce clusters of egg capsules. Each capsule is approximately 1.8 cm long and shaped like a laterally flattened cone. The cluster is attached to a hard surface such as a vacant shell or rock. Only a small portion of the 600-800 eggs laid in a cluster develop normally, and the remainder are fed upon by the healthy larvae
| Ecological Descriptors
True Tulip Snail