Skip to main content

Similar or different? Are these two animals below closely related? Have a close look, what do you think?

These two animals are closely related. They are both a type of limpet, both are herbivores, both have a single dome-shaped shell, and both have a strong muscular foot to hang onto the rocks. Our focus is the snail on the right of the picture above. This is an elephant snail (Scutus antipodes), a very large fleshy snail which can grow up to 100mm in length, that’s about the same size as the palm of your hand! It is an easy snail to identify with its jet-black body and white shell. Unlike other snails, the shell of an elephant snail does not cover the entire animal, but instead rides on its back and is often partially covered by flaps of the black body. You may only see a little strip of white shell or there may be no shell visible at all.

The elephant snail is common to rocky shores where it resides under rocks or in crevices staying out of the sun. It moves about at night to graze on seaweeds.

So why the name, elephant snail? Is it because it’s very large like an elephant? Is it the two long tentacles, like tusks, protruding from the head, visible when the animal is moving? Authors are undecided. What do you think?

Watch this amazing time-lapse video of an Elephant snail moving around on an upturned rock!!

The rock pools have such an amazing diversity of marine life and there is always something interesting to discover! If you would like to learn more about the rock platforms and how you can join in on an online workshop, and when it is safe to do so,  join the Education Team on a rock pool ramble, please contact the Education Director Mandy Robertson at the Dolphin Research Institute on

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.