Tube Snail

Tube Snails (Serpulorbis squamigerus)

Contributed by Dr. Bonnie Becker

Where found:  On the bottoms of rocks in the middle intertidal.

Interesting facts:  These animals look remarkably like calcareous tube worms. The way to tell they are not worms is that when they are disturbed, they retreat slowly into their tubes. Serpulid worms will snap down quickly, often before you notice them in the corner of your eye. The empty tubes of Serpulorbis provide habitat for a number of small animals, including crabs, amphipods, brittle stars, polychaete worms, and others.

Adaptations:  This animal is sessile (non-mobile). This helps protect them from wave stress and desiccation.

Food:  The mucous that most snails use to lubricate their paths is used by Serpulorbis for capturing food by entangling small animals and detritus. The mucous expands to create a net that is about 50 square centimeters, which is set for 10-30 minutes. The radula is used to retrieve the net and bring it to the snail’s mouth.

Life history:  This snail is ovoviviparous (lays eggs that it keeps within the shell until they are hatched). Young Serpulorbis have snail-like shells. When the animal settles and attaches to a rock, it begins to deposit calcareous matter to the shell to form the distinctive tubes the adult animals live in.

Classification:
Phylum:           Mollusca (Soft-bodied animals with external shells or modified internal shells)
Class:              Gastropoda (Snails, Limpets, Sea hares, Nudibranchs, etc.)
Subclass:         Prosobranchia
Order:             Mesogastropoda (Periwinkles, Slipper shells, Cowries, Moon snails, Horn shells, etc.)
Superfamily:    Cerithiacea
Family:            Vermetidae

Last revised 11-Jun-13

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