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Phylum Mollusca > Class Gastropoda > Family Cypraeidea
Wandering cowrie
Erronea errones
Family Cypraeidae
updated Jul 2020

if you learn only 3 things about them ...
Cowries are often well camouflaged. Look carefully for them.
Their shells are highly prized, thus cowries are threatened by over-collection.
Don't rip off a cowrie from a stone! It might be a mother cowrie protecting her eggs.

Where seen? This little cowrie is commonly seen on our Northern shores usually under stones, but sometimes crawling about in the open. Sometimes also seen on our Southern shores among coral rubble. It was previously known as Cypraea errones.

Features: 2-3cm.
Shell cylindrical, generally pale blue with 3 broad pale brown bands and small brown speckles all over. Sometimes, but not always, with a big brown blotch in the middle. There may be one or two brown spots at the front tip of the shell, sometimes no spots. Underside white without coloured 'teeth'. The living animal has a dark mottled mantle.

Sometimes confused with the Ovum cowrie (Cypraea ovum) which is similar but is pear-shaped, does not have spots at the front end of the shell and has 'teeth' that are tinged yellow or orange. Here's more on how to tell apart Wandering and Ovum cowries.

When the shell is completely covered in its mantle, it is sometimes mistaken for a sea slug. Here's more on how to tell apart slugs and animals that look like slugs.

Sisters Island, Jan 11

Shell cylindrical with one or two spots.
Sisters Island, Jan 11

Teeth' not coloured.
Sisters Island, Jan 11
Leave cowries alone: A mother cowrie stays over her eggs after she lays them, covering the egg mass (usually yellowish) with her foot. So if you see a cowrie under a stone, please don't rip it off. You might inadvertently separate a mother from her eggs!

Mama cowrie under a rock,
protecting her egg mass with her foot.
Sentosa, Apr 10


Wandering cowries on Singapore shores
On wildsingapore flickr

Other sightings on Singapore shores

Labrador, Nov 18
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on facebook.

East Coast-Marina Bay, Nov 17
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on facebook.

Terumbu Bemban, May 21
Photo shared by Vincent Choo on facebook.

Beting Bemban Besar, May 17
Photo shared by Toh Chay Hoon on facebook.



  • 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.
  • Abbott, R. Tucker, 1991. Seashells of South East Asia. Graham Brash, Singapore. 145 pp.
  • Kuiter, Rudie H and Helmut Debelius. 2009. World Atlas of Marine Fauna. IKAN-Unterwasserachiv. 723pp.
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