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Phylum Mollusca > Class Gastropoda > Family Neritidae
Chameleon nerite snail
Nerita chamaeleon
Family Neritidae
updated Sep 2020
Where seen? This colourful round snail is commonly seen on our rocky shores. It is often seen in large groups and is more active at night or cool days at low tide. The study by Tan & Clements (2008) found this snail on rocks, breakwaters, and seawalls. Sites included: Pulau Ubin, Changi, Tanah Merah, Marina South, Labrador, Sentosa, Pulau Bukom, St. John's Island, Pulau Hantu, Pulau Semakau, Pulau Salu, Tuas.

Features: 2.5-3.5cm. Shell thick heavy, hemispherical, spire sticks out a little. Thick, spiralling ribs, smooth and regularly spaced. Unlike its reptile namesake the Chameleon, this snail can't change the colour of its shell. But different individual snails on the shore may each have different shell colours and patterns, including some bright colours such as orange.

The flat underside white, some have ridges and a few small rounded bumps. Small ridged 'teeth' (2-4) on the straight edge at the shell opening. Larger shells often with at least one large rounded 'tooth' on one side of the shell opening. Operculum thick, evenly covered in tiny bumps, pinkish with darkish portion. Body pale with fine black bands on the foot and long thin black tentacles.

Sometimes confused with other similar nerites. Here's a comparison of these similar nerite snails and how to tell them apart.

St John's Island, Aug 08

St John's Island, Aug 08

Changi, May 06
Human uses: It is collected as food by coastal dwellers as well as for its shell for the shell trade.

Chameleon nerite snails on Singapore shores
On wildsingapore flickr

Other sightings on Singapore shores

East Coast (PCN), May 21
Photo shared by Vincent Choo on facebcok.

Links References
  • 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, S.K. & Clements, R. (2008) Taxonomy and distribution of the Neritidae (Mollusca: Gastropoda) on Singapore. Zoological Studies 47(4): 481-494.
  • 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.
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