shelled snails text index | photo index
Phylum Mollusca > Class Gastropoda
Creeper snails
Family Cerithiidae
updated Jul 2020
Where seen? Tiny creeper snails are common on our shores but often overlooked. They may be found on sandy shores, coral rubble and reefs on many of our shores. They are often seen in groups of individuals.

Features: 2 2.5cm. Shell long and narrow, distinguished by an upturned siphonal canal at the opening that looks like a little spout. This protects the siphon as the snail hides just beneath the sand. The shell opening is oval, and the operculum is made of a horny material usually brown usually with only a few whorls.

Sometimes confused with Horn snails (Family Potamididae) which also have an operculum made of a horny material but with a tight spiral pattern. Horn snails have siphonal canals that are less pronounced and they are generally larger than Creeper snails. More on how to tell these snails apart.

Sentosa, Oct 08

Shell opening.

Operculum with only a few whorls.
What do they eat? Creeper snails are often found in groups of many individuals packed close to one another. They feed on algae and detritus on the sea bottom, often near reefs.

Role in the habitat: Should the tiny snail die, the empty shell is often taken over by tiny hermit crabs.

Plain creeper snails sometimes seen in large numbers.
Pasir Ris Park, Aug 13

Empty shells may be taken over by
tiny huddling hermit crabs.
St John's Island, Jan 06
Human uses: Some of the prettier species are collected for the shell trade.

Status and threats: Traill's creeper (Cerithium trailli) is listed as 'Endangered' on the Red List of the threatened animals of Singapore, as shores where it was originally found have been lost to reclamation. Like other creatures of the intertidal zone, Creeper snails are affected by human activities such as reclamation and pollution. Trampling by careless visitors and over-collection can also have an impact on local populations.

Some Creeper snails on Singapore shores


Family Cerithiidae recorded for Singapore
from Tan Siong Kiat and Henrietta P. M. Woo, 2010 Preliminary Checklist of The Molluscs of Singapore.
in red are those isted among the threatened animals of Singapore from Davison, G.W. H. and P. K. L. Ng and Ho Hua Chew, 2008. The Singapore Red Data Book: Threatened plants and animals of Singapore.
+Other additions (Singapore Biodiversity Records, etc)

  Creeper snails commonly seen awaiting identification
Species are difficult to positively identify without close examination.
On this website, they are grouped by external features for convenience of display.
  Plain creeper snail
Variegated creeper snail

  Family Cerithiidae
  Cerithium coralium
Cerithium dialeucum
Cerithium lifuense
Cerithium nodulosum
Cerithium torresi
Cerithium traillii
(Traill's creeper) (EN: Endangered)
Cerithium zonatum

+Cerithiopsis sykesii

Clypeomorus adunca
Clypeomorus batillariaeformis
Clypeomorus bifasciata bifasciata
Clypeomorus brevis
Clypeomorus irrorata
Clypeomorus pellucida
(Mangrove creeper snail)=Clypeomorus pellucidus
Clypeomorus petrosa petrosa
Clypeomorus petrosa chemnitziana
Clypeomorus purpurastoma

Rhinoclavis aspera
Rhinoclavis obeliscus
Rhinoclavis sinensis
(Obelisk creeper snail)
Rhinoclavis vertagus

+Seila iredalei

  • Traill's cerith (Cerithium trailli) on the NParks Flora and Fauna website.
  • Family Cerithiidae on The Gladys Archerd Shell Collection at Washington State University Tri-Cities Natural History Museum website: brief description and photos.
  • Family Cerithiidae in the Gastropods section by J.M. Poutiers in the FAO Species Identification Guide for Fishery Purposes: The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific Volume 1: Seaweeds, corals, bivalves and gastropods on the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) website.
  • Records of two cerithiopsid snails in Singapore, 22 January 2020, Chan Sow-Yan & Lau Wing Lup, Singapore Biodiversity Records, 2020: 9-10 ISSN 2345-7597, National University of Singapore.


  • Tan Siong Kiat and Henrietta P. M. Woo, 2010 Preliminary Checklist of The Molluscs of Singapore (pdf), Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, National University of Singapore.
  • Tan, K. S. & L. M. Chou, 2000. A Guide to the Common Seashells of Singapore. Singapore Science Centre. 160 pp.
  • Wee Y.C. and Peter K. L. Ng. 1994. A First Look at Biodiversity in Singapore. National Council on the Environment. 163pp.
  • Davison, G.W. H. and P. K. L. Ng and Ho Hua Chew, 2008. The Singapore Red Data Book: Threatened plants and animals of Singapore. Nature Society (Singapore). 285 pp.
  • Abbott, R. Tucker, 1991. Seashells of South East Asia. Graham Brash, Singapore. 145 pp.
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