- José H. Leal
The Atlantic Carrier Snail
The Atlantic Carrier Snail, Xenophora conchyliophora (Born, 1780), is a moderately rare species in the barrier islands of Southwest Florida. Almost all members of the Carrier Snail family Xenophoridae have the ability to cement other shells, shell fragments, worm tubes, corals, and even little pebbles to their own shells. They hold the object to be cemented in place with their foot, then proceed to secrete shell material to affix the object permanently to their own shell edge. Some species specialize in cementing elongate shells such as Augers and Turret shells, which they do in radial fashion, such as the spokes in a wheel. Members of our local species mostly cement other shell fragments to their own shell. There are many possible reasons for the Carrier Snails’ object-cementing behavior, including camouflage, causing the snail to be more difficult to swallow by predators, and even a probable “snowshoe” effect, with the objects providing the snail with more surface area, therefore more stability on soft, muddy substrates.