shelled snails text index | photo index
Phylum Mollusca > Class Gastropoda
Triton snails
Family Ranellidae
updated Sep 2020

Where seen? The commonly seen triton snail is rather small and boring. It is usually found under stones on our Northern shores.

Features: The larger species of triton snails are more famous. They can grow to 50cm up to 1m long! Many of them have a hairy covering on the shell. The operculum is made of a horn-like material and is thick and brown. They are found in sandy and rocky habitats, many are only found offshore in deeper waters. They were previously placed in Family Cymatiidae.

What do they eat? Some large tritons eat living sea stars and sea cucumbers. Others may prey on other snails and on clams, or ascidians, sponges, hydroids. The prey is often first paralysed with an acidic salivary secretion before it is devoured. They may spray or inject an anaesthetic to paralyse their prey. Some tear off bits of flesh with their radula, while others liquify the prey's flesh then suck up the soup with their proboscis.

Human uses: In the past, large specimens were used a trumpets. Thus another common name for them is Trumpet shells.

Some Triton snails on Singapore shores

Common triton snail

Leopard triton snail

Family Ranellidae recorded for Singapore
from Tan Siong Kiat and Henrietta P. M. Woo, 2010 Preliminary Checklist of The Molluscs of Singapore.
^from WORMS

+Other additions (Singapore Biodiversity Records, etc)

  Family Ranellidae
  Biplex perca

Cymatium sp. (Leopard triton snail)
Cymatium caudatum=^Ranularia caudata
Cymatium cutaceum=^Linatella caudata
Cymatium labiosum=^Turritriton labiosus
Cymatium pfeifferianum=^Reticutriton pfeifferianus
Cymatium tranquebaricum=^Monoplex tranquebaricus

Gyrineum bituberculare
Gyrineum gyrinum
Gyrineum lacunatum
Gyrineum natator
(Common triton snails)

+Monoplex pilearis


  • Family Ranallidae on The Gladys Archerd Shell Collection at Washington State University Tri-Cities Natural History Museum website: brief description and photos.
  • Family Ranallidae 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.


  • New record of the hairy triton shell, Monoplex pilearis, in Singapore, 29 November 2019, Calvin Leow Jiah Jay & Joash Tan, Singapore Biodiversity Records 2019: 148 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.
  • 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.
  • Abbott, R. Tucker, 1991. Seashells of South East Asia. Graham Brash, Singapore. 145 pp.
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