Chestnut Cowry

Chestnut Cowry (Cypraea spadicea)

Contributed by TPERP Art Geisler

D. Wieder


Where to find them: Chestnut Cowries live from Monterey, California to Baja California, Mexico in the low to mid tidal zones. This is the only cowry found in Southern California.

What do they eat: Chestnut Cowries consume all types of algae, and sea anemones.

Who eats them: The slippery shell is difficult for animals to grip, however some crustaceans and even octopus can gain entry inside the shell. However, the worst predator is the uninformed visitor or diver.

Adaptations: The Chestnut Cowry has a shiny egg-shaped shell that is reddish-brown and white in color. They are usually smooth and egg-shaped, with a flat bottom and a tooth like opening. The adult shell of this species ranges in size from 1.5-2.5 inches (4-6 cm) long. The name “chestnut cowry” comes from a large patch of a rich chestnut brown on the top of the shell, ringed with a darker brown, against a white background.

Reproduction: Females deposit clusters of egg capsules in the summer, with each capsule containing hundreds of eggs. They hatch in about three weeks.

What’s their life like: They are nocturnal, usually feeding in the low intertidal and the kelp beds.

Interesting facts: Its soft, orange mantle rises up and over the shell, leaving new shell deposits on top. This also helps keep it clean and shiny. The Chestnut Cowries shells are commonly used for jewelry due to their magnificent sheen and color.



Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Gastropoda
Order: Cypraeoidea
Family: Cypraeidae
Scientific Name: Neoberna. spadicea
Common Name(s): Chestnut Cowry or Cowrie

 Source(s) of Information:
Jeffery L. Brandon, and Rokop, F. J. Life Between the Tides – The Natural History of the Common Seashore Life of Southern California. 1985. American Southwest Publishing Company of San Diego.


Last revised 09-Jan-18