species: Cypraea tigris in Lizard Island area: all known taxa (Lizard Island Field Guide)
Cypraea tigris

©Barbara Banks: Cypraea tigris at Lizard Island

©Barbara Banks: Cypraea tigris at Lizard Island

©Lyle Vail: Cypraea tigris on the reef flat at Coconut Beach, Lizard Island.
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Mollusca
Class Gastropoda
Order Littorinimorpha
Family Cypraeidae
Genus Cypraea
Species Cypraea tigris



Distinguishing features

Upper surface pale with numerous dark spots and a prominent mantle line; undersurface white. Unlike most cowries, this species is often exposed during the day. The mantle has long filaments. Very young juveniles do not have spots on the shell but mantle characteristics allow identification.


  • Size data has not been obtained.



Dr Richard Willan (NT Museum) identified the photos of the juvenile posted here in July 2020. He notes:

"Unlike other gastropods, the mantle of cowries has the ability to produce colour and sculpture (in ridged and pustulose spp.) everywhere on its inner surface rather than just at the margin as the shell grows. At present the shell is moderately slender, thin and colourless. I went through every page of Burgess’ Cowries of the World book to match the characters of the mantle and siphon (which don’t change ontogenetically). The mantle in this individual has numerous, long, close-packed, slender, simple papillae with a dark middle zone. The siphon is fringed with very short papillae. All these characters are unique to C. tigris, so I think it has to be that species. The habitat – under rubble on reef at low tide – is certainly consistent with that of (all life stages of) C. tigris."

by Anne Hoggett


©Atlas of Living Australia: Australian distribution

Web resources


References that assist with identification

  • Wilson, B. (1993). Australian Marine Shells: 1. Prosobranch gastropods Odyssey Publishing, Kallaroo, Western Australia.