Animal Species:Cone shells, Conus

Textile Cone Shell

Textile Cone Shell
Photographer: Richard Ling © Richard Ling 2005 (Licensed under GFDL and CC-by-sa-2.5. All other rights reserved)

Standard Common Name

Cone shells


Cone shells have a cone or cylindrical-shaped shell with a muscular foot and come in a wide range of colours and patterns. They range in size from the small Pygmy Cone, Conus pymaeus, to the large Leopard Cone, Conus leopardus.

Size range

0.25–2 cm


Usually associated with coral reefs, sandy bottoms and inter-tidal environments, cone shells are found in the tropical, subtropical and temperate waters of the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.

Other behaviours and adaptations

Nothing delivers venom quite like the cone shell. Harpoon-like, barbed darts are released into a sack to be coated with venom, before moving up into the shell’s snout to inject into its prey. They use this to immobilise their victim, feeding on snails, worms and small fish.

Danger to humans and first aid

If stung, seek immediate medical attention.



What does this mean?

Chris Hosking , Interpretive Officer
Last Updated: