Mar 4, 2008: Introduction to the Moon Snail, part 1

Tideflat Critters

Moon Snail on wintry low tide

Lewis' Moon Snails (Euspira lewisii), the largest moon snails in the world, are named after Merriweather Lewis, who first saw them at the mouth of the Columbia River. Moon snails like low, sandy beaches. The big slimy appendage sticking out of the shell is exactly that: a mucous-covered foot. The snail uses the foot to glide through water, burrow in sand, or to immobilize clams as it feeds on them. Moon snails, like all snails, are gastropods.

Moon snail from side

Below: the moon snail's least flattering angle.

Moon snail from below

We've heard, but find it hard to believe, that moon snails are 'relished' in Norway. Hopefully the species of moon snail found in Europe is more appetizing than the Northwest's Euspira lewisii. If there's anyone out there who's ever eaten moon snail, and enjoyed it, please tell us about it.

Moon snails are a drill snail, which means that somewhere in that mucous-covered foot there's a sandpaper-like tongue that the snail uses to drill through the shells of its prey (normally clams). Before it starts drilling, the snail secretes a chemical that dissolves and softens the clam shell. Moon snails seem to really, really like butter clams, but they also eat cockles, horse clams, and even other moon snails. The main predator of the moon snail is the twenty-rayed starfish.

Discarded moon snail shells, which litter the tideflats, make great tchotchkes. Or, if you're a hermit crab, great homes.

moon snail shell


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  • Boris the Cosmonaut on

    “We’ve heard, but find it hard to believe, that moon snails are ‘relished’ in Norway …. If there’s anyone out there who’s ever eaten moon snail, and enjoyed it, please tell us about it.”

    Relished in Norway, and outer spaceskii, too! I am Russian Cosmonaut, launched into orbit with moon snails to eat.

    Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Three times around the earth, staring up the moon snail’s a** for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

    Every day. No pat of butter. No jam. No fancy bread or toast. Just snail: Snail snail snail snail snail.

    If we not eat them, they bore hole through our snazzy Russki space-helmets.

    The Amerigans, they eat leopard. And cheetah. In space.

    We eat moon snails, and is why we lost the spaceskii race.

    Resignedly,
    Boris
    The Cosmonaut

  • Oyster Fan on

    Oyster shucker Roberto has put ground up moon snail in a clam chowder, and that seems like the safest way to eat the snail. The foot is apparently very rubbery… you probably couldn’t put enough butter and garlic on a moon snail steak to make it edible.

  • Rico Alpine Society on

    We totally dig your blog.

    This type of nature education will go a long way toward people’s understanding of the oyster and the preservation of its ecosystem!

    Great idea and a great way to utlize your talent for writing. Keep it going!

  • Justin on

    I was just curious, have you ever eaten a moon snail??? If so, what did you think? If not, why not?

  • Faith on

    Thank God I found your page!! I just spent a ton of time searching for into on the moon snails found on the coast of BC – very little info out there. Great pics and info, for my homeschooled kids – thanks a bunch!



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