shelled snails text index | photo index
Phylum Mollusca > Class Gastropoda > Family Cypraeidea
Tiger cowrie
Cypraea tigris
Family Cypraeidae
updated Jul 2020
Where seen? This stunning snail is rare and thus a delight to encounter. It is sometimes seen on our undisturbed Northern shores, near living reefs. It is said to be usually found on live coral colonies, particularly table-forming Acropora corals. Other accounts suggest it is also found in seagrass meadows, and sand and rubble.

8-9cm, can reach 15cm. Shell is oval to pear-shaped, variable in colour from white to nearly black but usually white, yellowish to light blue greyish with dense rounded spots of dark brown to black. The underside is white including the 'teeth'. The mantle may be golden yellow with dark bands and spots that somewhat resembles a tiger's stripes, also described as a 'finger-print' pattern.

Sometimes mistaken for a sea slug. 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.

Terumbu Raya, May 10
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on his blog.

Terumbu Semakau, Nov 12

Pulau Biola, May 10
Photo shared by Neo Mei Lin on her flickr.
Human uses: It is collected for food and the shell for the shell trade, where it is one of the favourites of shell collectors. Sadly, they are often over-collected, using destructive methods such as dynamite fishing. As a result, even elsewhere, it may be nearly extinct locally or confined to depths over 10 m.

Status and threats: It is listed as 'Endangered' in the Red List of threatened animals of Singapore, which adds that although it is considered one of the most common coweries in the Indo-Pacific, and were found on Singapore's reefs in the past, it is now 'exceedingly rare'. The Red List goes on the suggest that sites need to be protected and over-collecting prevented.

Tiger cowries on Singapore shores
On wildsingapore flickr

Other sightings on Singapore shores

Sentosa, Dec 18
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on facebook.

Sentosa Tg Rimau, Aug 20
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on facebook.

Pulau Tekukor, Jun 16
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on facebook.

Pulau Semakau, Aug 13
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on flickr.

Pulau Semakau (South), Jan 20
Photo shared by Leon Tan on facebook.

Pulau Semakau (East), Dec 20
Photo shared by Jianlin Liu on facebook.

Terumbu Semakau, Jun 12
Photo shared by Russel Low on facebook.

Beting Bemban Besar, 20
Photo shared by Jesselyn Chua on facebook.

Tiger Cowrie at Pulau Tekukor from Loh Kok Sheng on Vimeo.



  • 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.
  • Gosliner, Terrence M., David W. Behrens and Gary C. Williams. 1996. Coral Reef Animals of the Indo-Pacific: Animal life from Africa to Hawaii exclusive of the vertebrates Sea Challengers. 314pp.
  • Abbott, R. Tucker, 1991. Seashells of South East Asia. Graham Brash, Singapore. 145 pp.
  • 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.
  • Kuiter, Rudie H and Helmut Debelius. 2009. World Atlas of Marine Fauna. IKAN-Unterwasserachiv. 723pp.
links | references | about | email Ria
Spot errors? Have a question? Want to share your sightings? email Ria I'll be glad to hear from you!
wildfactsheets website©ria tan 2008