Friday 7 August 2015

Button Top

Image: Ria Tan
Umbonium vestiarium
It's the Cute-as-a-button Snail!

Button Tops are delightful snails found in soft, sandy, seashores from east Africa to Australia.

Image: Femorale
Their shells reach up to 2 cm (0.8 in) across and... just look at them!

Button Top shells come in a vast array of colours and patterns.

Image: Ria Tan
They can be chocolatey brown, pearly white, red, pink, stripy, blotchy and a whole lot more besides. It seems every Button Top has their own, personal fashion sense!

Unfortunately you might not actually see one even if it's right under your nose. The shells are flattened and glossy so that Button Tops can effortlessly burrow just below the surface of the sand. All that emerges into the water above are tentacles, eye stalks and a pair of tubes known as siphons.

Image: Ria Tan
Two tentacles, two eye stalks, two siphons
Button Tops feed by taking water in through one of these siphons and letting it out through the other. Along the way, tiny tentacles in the 'IN' siphon filter out tiny bits of food.

If they can't satisfy their appetite that way they can also use one tentacle and their foot to gather dinner right from the sand, instead. But for the most part, Button Tops are filter feeders, which is very unusual for a snail.

Image: Ria Tan
When predators come along, Button Tops can use their long foot to leap away and quickly bury themselves again. They can also get away by floating to the water's surface to escape larger, predatory snails that prowl the sandy coast.

Image: Ria Tan
So they're not just a pretty shell, but boy are they a pretty shell! Even those picky hermit crabs know a good thing when they see it.


TexWisGirl said...

they are beautiful!

Anonymous said...


Joseph JG said...

@TexWisGirl: They really are!

@stregajewellry: So true!