Australian Biological Resources Study

Species Bank Home

Nerita squamulata (Family Neritidae)

Scaled Nerite


The Scaled Nerite has an Indo-Pacific distribution. It ranges from North West Cape, WA, across northern shores including NT, to northern Qld (WA, NT, QLD).


The shell of the Scaled Nerite is a flattened globe-shape referred to as being turbinate or turban shaped. Its width is greater than its height and this produces a low spire. It grows to a width of 30 mm. The shell sculpture consists of scaly or scabrous (scabby-looking) spiral cords and axial threads. The axial growth lines are distinct. The outer lip of the aperture flares out, with teeth-like bumps called denticles lined within. The aperture itself is lyre shaped. The columellar deck or platform is concave, being sculptured with nodules and 4-6 small denticles at the margin. The covering operculum in marked with fine granules.

It can be confused with the quite similar looking Chamaeleon Nerite, Nerita chamaeleon, but can be distinguished by having a more scabby-looking shell surface and its spire is more flattened.

The external colour of the Scaled Nerite is brown, orange or grey, with darker spotting and spiral bands. Inside the shell is coloured pale green to white. The operculum is green tinged.

Ecology/Way of Life:

The Scaled Nerite is an abundant mollusc that is found high on sandy shores, sheltering beside rocks. Here it may be exposed to the drying effects of the sun for many hours each day. Nerites are herbivorous and browse on small algae that coats the rocks or logs where they live. Across tropical Australia there are many nerite species and they form one of the dominant molluscan groups there. Where a few species occur together on the same shore, they are clearly zoned, occurring at different heights on a shore. At Exmouth Gulf WA, where the waters were more muddy and had a lower salinity, Wells (1979) found that the Wave-marked Nerite, Nerita undata, was the highest occurring species while the Scaled Nerite, N. squamulata, was the lower one on the shore.

Interaction with Humans/Threats:

The Scaled Nerite is an abundant widespread species across northern Tropical Australia and does not appear to be under threat from human activity.

Other Comments:

Nerita squamulata , Le Guillou, 1841. The word Nerite comes from the Greek word nereites or nerites that means a sea snail of various kinds. Squamulata comes from the Latin word squama, meaning a scale.

Further Reading:

Davey, K. (1998) A Photographic Guide to Seashore Life of Australia. New Holland Press, p.97, Sydney.

Short, J. W. & Potter, D. G. (1987). Shells of Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef. p.18, Golden Press.

Wells, F. E. (1979) Ecological segregation among nerites at North West Cape, Western Australia. Journal of the Malacological Society of Australia. v.4, 135-143.

Wells, F. E. & Bryce, C. W. (1988). Seashells of Western Australia. p.49, Western Australian Museum.


Text, map & photograph by Keith Davey.

Sponsorship welcomed:

Please Contact ABRS if you wish to discuss sponsoring this or other pages.


Distribution Map

Attached Images

Return to Species Bank home



   Links to another web site
   Opens a pop-up window