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Hipponix conicus (Family Hipponicidae)

Bonnet Limpet



Possibly occurs all around Australia: Indo-West Pacific (Wells & Bryce): Wide southern Australian distribution (CIOV): WA to Qld and around Tas. (Edgar). (QLD, NSW, VIC, TAS, SA, WA, NT)


The Bonnet Limpet is easily distinguished by its characteristic bonnet shape, and habit of living on the shells of large molluscs. The shell is small, solid, conical and cap-shaped, with the base nearly round. The apex is towards the rear, pointed backwards so that it often overhangs the rear edge. The shell sculpture is of numerous irregular, broad, flattish ribs that become wrinkled in older specimens. The outer edge of the shell is crenulated on the inside. There is no operculum cover. The shell may grow to 10-20 m, with a width of 12 mm.

The outer shell is brown, often with an orange tinge, while the interior is white , bordered with chocolate brown.

Ecology/Way of Life:

The Bonnet Limpet is often found commensally on the shells of other larger molluscs. It has been found on Turbo species, on the Abalone, Haliotis rubra, as well as Chlamys bifrons, Pleuropoca australasia, Pterynotus triformis and Pinna bicolor (Sheppherd & Thomas). It is able to excavate a small cavity in the shells of its hosts. It is also found under boulders and stones. It occurs at low tide levels and below.

The Bonnet Limpets feed on the faecal pellets of the host mollusc. It feeds by lifting its shell margin and searching for food particles with its proboscis. Small males attach themselves to the larger shells of females in which they excavate a communication notch.

Preferred Image

Interaction with Humans/Threats:


Further Reading:

Davey, K., 1998, A Photographic Guide to Seashore Life of Australia. p. 107, New Holland Press.

Edgar, G.J.,1997, Australian Marine Life: the plants and animals of temperate waters. p. 249, Reed.

Laws, H.M. 1970, Reproductive biology and shell site preference in Hipponix conicus (Schumacher). Veliger, 13(2), 115-121.

Macpherson, J.H. & Gabriel, C.J. (1962), Marine Molluscs of Victoria, p. 127, Museum of Victoria.

Marine Research Group of Victoria, 1984, Coastal Invertebrates of Victoria, p.50. Museum of Victoria.

Sheppherd, S.A. & Thomas, I.M., 1989, Marine Invertebrates of Southern Australia, pt. II. p. 127, South Australian Museum.

Wells, F.E., & Bryce, C.W.,1988, Seashells of Western Australia, p.58, Western Australian Museum.


Text, map & photograph by Keith Davey.

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Images and Multi-media:  
Attached Image  
image/jpeg 8185 bytes Bonnet Limpet
Distribution Map  
image/gif 1079 bytes Distribution of Bonnet Limpet

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