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Phylum Mollusca > Class Gastropoda > Family Muricidae
Rare-spined murex
Murex trapa
Family Muricidae
updated Oct 2016
Where seen? It is rare to come across the living snail but the shells of these snails are often encountered on our Northern shores. The empty shell is usually occupied by a hermit crab!

Features: 6-7cm long, it has slender, curving spines and a long siphonal canal. It has 3-4 short spines on half the siphonal canal closest to the shell. This long siphonal canal helps the animal protect its siphon while it pokes into places to look for food. While the spines may help protect it from predators, it does make it difficult for the animal to move about among seagrasses and seaweeds. So the animal usually moves by holding the shell high above the bottom as it moves across the surface.

What does it eat? Like other drills (Family Muricidae) the Rare-spined murex snail can drill through the shells of clams and snails.

Human uses: It is sometimes collected as food by coastal dwellers (e.g., in Malaysia) and for its shell for the shell trade.

Status and threats: This snail is listed as 'Vulnerable' on the Red List of threatened animals of Singapore. It is now seldom seen. Like other creatures of the intertidal zone, they 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.

Changi, Aug 08

This one was clasping a bivalve.
Changi, Aug 08

Long tentacles and muscular foot.

Empty shells are commonly seen.
Changi, Aug 05

Taken over by a Striped hermit crab.
Changi, Apr 05

Tanah Merah, Aug 09
Photo shared by James Koh on his blog.

Rare-spined murex on Singapore shores

Photos of Rare-spined murex for free download from wildsingapore flickr

Distribution in Singapore on this wildsingapore flickr map



  • 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.
  • Ng, P. K. L. & Y. C. Wee, 1994. The Singapore Red Data Book: Threatened Plants and Animals of Singapore. The Nature Society (Singapore), Singapore. 343 pp.
  • 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.
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