Naticidae - naticids, moon snails

Order: Sorbeoconcha (Neotaenioglossa)
Superfamily: Naticoidea
Family: Naticidae


Two species from Koumac, New Caledonia, October, 1993. Upper: Naticarius orientalis. Lower: unidentified. Photos: Bill Rudman

The naticids are a group of carnivorous marine snails, usually found burrowing in soft sediments. They feed mainly on shelled molluscs, including other snails and bivalves, and are well-known because they use their buccal apparatus and radula to drill a hole through their prey's shell, leaving a very characteristic countersunk drill hole in the shell. In line with their burrowing habit, their body is modified, much as in burrowing shelled opisthobranchs like Philine angasi. The front of the body has a large head shield which partly overlaps the shell, and flaps on either side of the body partially, or in a few species, wholly cover the shell. The shell ranges in shape from a typical spiral snail shell to a very flattened shape, similar to the shell of an abalone (Haliotis spp). A few species, like Sinum spp, can easily be mistaken for a large species of Philine. Many species lay their eggs in a spiral ribbon, embedded with sand grains, forming the characteristic sand collar found on sheltered sand flats in many parts of the world. Most species have a highly polished white shell and a dull white animal, but in a few tropical species, like Natica orientalis illustrated here, the animal can be as brightly coloured as a nudibranch.

Authorship details
Rudman, W.B., 2001 (June 28) Naticidae - naticids, moon snails. [In] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

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