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Cone Snail: 21 Facts You Won’t Believe

Cone snail facts are great for kids

Are you interested in learning about shelled animals like oysters? If yes, then hold tight as we are about to meet one of the most venomous seashells present in the world. You can mainly find the cone snail in the warm tropical regions of the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, but can also be found on the coasts of the U.S. Most of us are familiar with the cone-shaped shell of these invertebrates as it tends to be beautiful and humans have been making jewelry from it for a long time.

However, little do we know that the cone snail venom known as conotoxins can even cause human deaths when you aren't careful. The geographic cone is said to have the strongest venom amongst the 900 species that have been identified until now. These critters have a harpoon-like tooth that they can shoot out to hunt prey and bring death to it within seconds. However, most species aren't deadly to humans because of weak toxins.

Want to know more about this invertebrate and its venom? Keep reading to find interesting cone snail facts. For more relatable content, check out these Partula snail facts and apple snail facts for kids.

Cone Snail Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a cone snail?

The cone snail is a venomous variant of seashells usually found in marine environments.

What class of animal does the cone snail belong to?

The cone snail belongs to the class Gastropoda and the family Conidae which is divided into four major genera.

How many cone snails are there in the world?

We don't have any definite data about the population of this creature as more than 900 species of it have been noted.

Where do cone snails live?

We could never tell the exact dwelling place of these creatures, however, a lot of species have been found in the western Indo-Pacific region. Snails cone species have also been found in South Africa's Cape region. Scientists could also find a number of species living in southern California leading to the discovery of the Californiconus californicus.

What is a cone snail habitat?

The cone snail is mainly found in tropical and subtropical marine environments. But, it can also occur in temperate and cool subtropical regions.

Who does cone snail live with?

Cone snails are usually a solitary species that lives by hiding under the sand or rocks. Even though the creature may hunt and eat alone, you can still find other cone snails around it.

How long does a cone snail live?

Even though cone snails haven't been documented well in their wild habitat, this deadly group of creatures is thought to have a long life of around 10-20 years.

How do they reproduce?

The reproduction system of cone snail is still elusive as most of the studies have been done on captive cones. However, it is said that the fertilization of eggs happens inside the body of the female cones, and usually up to 5,000 eggs are laid. These egg capsules remain attached to the surface before its ready to hatch and parents play no role in bringing up the baby cones.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of the cone snails may change based on the species. Most do have the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List classification of Least Concern, while others have failed to make it to this category. However, species like the Conus mordeirae and the Conus lugubris have been featured under the status of Critically Endangered.

Cone Snail Fun Facts 

What does the cone snail look like?

When it comes to the appearance of these snails, you can understand that it has a cone-like shape. However, the fun lies in the different patterns seen on the body of cone snails which has made this deadly creature precious among humans. For instance, the Conus marmoreus or marbled cone has beautiful black and white marbling on its body. Whereas, the Californiconus californic or California cone is rather plain looking with its grayish-brown shell. The Conus gloriamaris is thought to be one of the most beautiful seashells in the world because of the incredible crosshatch pattern present on its body.

At the wide end of the cone snail's body, you will find spires or whorls of various heights. Some cone snail species have a shiny body while others have a dull or plain look. Now, coming to its teeth, it's contained inside the radula (anatomical teeth-like structure for feeding in mollusks) and this helps to chew the food.

Cone snail facts help to learn about the ocean.

How cute are they?

Even though we cannot say that every species is cute and adorable, still humans have always found the cone snail's shell to be quite precious. And, moreover, these toxic ocean creatures are definitely cuter than the freshwater mussel.

How do they communicate?

We don't know much about the communication present in these deadly animals. However, it does have chemical receptors on the proboscis that helps it to search and bring death upon a prey.

How big is the cone snail?

As there are hundreds of species of cone snail, we cannot possibly note down each of the sizes. However, the average number is around 0.5-8.5 in (1.3-21.6 cm). Compared to it, the giant clam has a size of around 4 ft (1.2 m) making it enormous.

How fast can a cone snail move?

These toxic cone snails surely know how to quickly sting an opponent, but these animals aren't great at moving and are among some of the slowest marine species.

How much does a cone snail weigh?

The weight of cone snails may vary according to the size of its shell. However, the average range is thought to be up to 3.5 oz (100 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no separate names for the male and female among the cone snails. Moreover, it's quite hard to differentiate between the two, even though most species of cone snails happen to have distinct sexes.

What would you call a baby cone snail?

The cone snails are known for having two types of babies - veligers or the free-swimming larvae and the veliconcha or the ones that look like baby snails.

What do they eat?

The cone snail location often dictates its diet along with the size of its body. Most smaller-sized cone snails depend on a diet of worms. Even the hunting organ or proboscis of the cones may differ according to the food that it takes. There are some cone snail species that depend on eating other snails present in their habitat, while the bigger cone snails may feed on fish. The geographic cone is one such species that is known for eating fish. These animals are also nocturnal in nature and so it mainly hunts during the night.

This venomous species doesn't only use its venom to harm you, but it acts as a great tool for it to startle a prey to stop it from slipping away. Near the ocean, these cone snails are slow-moving, and it often waits on the surface waiting for the prey to arrive. There are chemical receptors present on its proboscis which helps it to sting its prey in a harpoon-like manner, and it also helps to engulf the kill. However, in some species, the system of eating is a bit different as the cone shells prefer to gulp down the kill as soon as possible without using the sting as a first move.

Are they dangerous?

Yes, cone snails are regarded as one of the most venomous species of snails out there. These snails have a harpoon-like organ called the proboscis which helps them to sting and deposit the venom inside the prey. The cone snail venom is known as conotoxins and even though most aren't lethal, there are some that can seriously harm a human being.

Would they make a good pet?

We don't think that cone snails are really great pets, but to our astonishment, some people have taken a liking to these creatures. People mainly seek out those species that have elaborate patterns on its shell. However, always make sure to use protection like rubber gloves to avoid getting stung by the proboscis of this snail. Another thing to note is that you cannot keep Vulnerable or Endangered species as your pet, so ensure that you are getting it from a reliable source.

And, if you are like us who don't prefer to have this animal as a pet, the shells are easily available for sale at marine locations. So, you always have the option to buy the shells or jewelry made of the cone's shell.

Did you know...

If you're fond of history, you will be thrilled to know that in the past, there has been an economic system where cone snails were used as a currency, especially among the people of coastal areas.

Some large ray fish also feast on cone snails.

The venom of the cone snail is being thoroughly studied to develop medicines similar to opioids.

There's no fixed cone snail scientific name as there are hundreds of species of these critters. But, before 2015, most of these snails were placed under the genus of Conus. And, to date, 85% of the animals still remain under it.

Can a cone snail kill a human?

Even though it's very rare for cone snails to actually kill a human, there have been 27 odd cases of cone snail deaths. The Conus geographus or the geographic cone is said to be the most toxic species. Hence, it would be best to stay away from it as human deaths can occur within minutes after getting the sting.

What happens if you get stung by a cone snail?

After a cone snail sting, you will usually start getting symptoms including numbness and tingling in the area. In most cases, the reactions subside soon as the conotoxins are similar to that of a bee's stings. However, in some rare instances where there's a powerful toxin, it can lead to serious side effects like muscle paralysis, blurred vision, as well as respiratory paralysis. Hence, if you suspect being stung by a cone snail, make sure to seek emergency medical treatment as soon as possible.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other arthropods from our glass snail interesting facts and dot snail surprising facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Jeremy snail coloring pages.

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