Taxon profile


Epitonium clathrus (Linnaeus, 1758)

kingdom Animalia - animals »  phylum Mollusca - mollusks »  class Gastropoda - gastropods »  family Epitoniidae - Wentletraps »  genus Epitonium

Scientific synonyms

Turbo clathrus Linnaeus, 1758
Clathrus clathrus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Epitonium annulatus Milaschewitch, 1909
Epitonium annulatum Milaschewitsch, 1909
Scala communis Lamarck, 1822
?Scalaria jousseaumei E. A. A. Locard, 1892
?Epitonium jousseaumei (E. A. A. Locard, 1892)
Epitonium clathrus mediterraneum (Kobelt, 1887)
Epitonium clathrus minimum Nordsieck, 1968


Epitonium clathrus

Author: Kantor & Sysoev

Epitonium clathrus

Author: McMammal

Epitonium clathrus

Author: Alexeiev

Epitonium clathrus

Author: Kaicher, S.

Epitonium clathrus

Author: Fretter & Graham

Epitonium clathrus

Author: Fretter & Graham

Epitonium clathrus

Author: Jan Delsing

Taxon in country check-lists*

* List of countries might not be complete


Shell solid, stretched, conic in form, whorls convex adorned with solid axial ribs roundish in form. Suture very deep and canaliculus. Surface smooth and bright. In the upper part, the ribs (9 on the last whorl) have a sort of auricle that joins the previous rib. Aperture roundish in form. Colour pattern changeable: on a light brown ground there can be seen either streaks or bands darker, mainly near the suture. Umbilicus missing. Protoconch, made by about 4 whorls of spiral, smooth and brown in colour. Locard & Caziot, 1900 described some varieties of this species (minor, major, elongata) without any taxonomic value. The differences with E. turtonis Turton, 1819, unique species similar to clathrus, are mainly due to ribs flatter, to a non uniform thickness, to a suture less deep and usually to a darker colour pattern as far as turtonis is concerned. The adult specimens average measures are around 25-30 mm in height.
Scaperrotta, M. ,Bartolini, S. & Bogi, C., 2009. Accrescimenti, Vol. 2. Stages of growth of marine molluscs of the Mediterranean Sea. (secondary description)
Shell. A tall, narrow cone of up to 15 whorls, though the apical ones are often lost; opaque and glossy. The spire is gently cyrtoconoid, the apical angle of young shells c. 28°, of adult ones only c. 10°. There are no true sutures as the whorls, which are nearly circular in cross-section, do not touch and are linked only by way of the costae almost the only element of the ornament, though in the spaces between them fine growth lines and spiral irregularities may be detected locally. One costa forms a varix at the aperture and there are 8 more on the last whorl; the other whorls each have 9. Each is narrow, about one third the breadth of the intervening space, is prosocline and shaped like a wave breaking up the spiral of the shell so that its adapical side is concave. Each costa increases in height towards the adapical edge of the whorl and, as it nears that, sends an apically-directed spur to plaster itself over the corresponding costa on the whorl next above. The costae therefore form a series of conspicuous spiral ridges from apex to base. There is a clear gap between neighbouring costae at the adapical edge of a whorl.
The protoconch has about 4 whorls, less tumid than those of the rest of the shell and meeting at deep sutures. The first is smooth (or may be tuberculate), the others crossed by many close-set flexuous growth lines or low lamellae. The transition to the adult shell is abrupt.
Aperture. Nearly circular, slightly elongated along a line c. 25° to the shell axis, surrounded by a peristome lying in a slightly prosocline plane. The outer lip arises near the base of the last whorl, level with the basal brown band, and curves smoothly to the columella, a very little out-turned at the base. Its edge is smooth and rather thick because it is confluent with the labial varix. The columella is short and the lip here is turned out over an undulating fold formed from the adapically running bases of 3-4 ribs. More adapically the inner lip rests on the summit of costae and leaves a deep gap between itself and the body whorl. There is, however, no clear umbilicus.
Colour. Mainly dirty grey, but the ridges are cream. There are usually 2 peripheral brown spiral bands and, on the last whorl, a basal one. These are often more persistent and obvious on the costae. There is also, sometimes, a variety of irregular brown markings.
Size. Up to 40x 12 mm. Last whorl = 33-35% of shell height; aperture = 18% of shell height.
Animal The head is reduced as there is no visible snout. The tentacles are slender and tapering, rather close-set at the base, where lies an eye on a low bulge on the outer side. The mouth (the opening of a proboscis pouch, not a true mouth) is a short slit under the tentacle bases. The mantle edge is rather thick, but smooth, and the mantle cavity is narrow. There is no penis and the prostate and oviduct are open tracts.
The foot is narrow, with a straight, double anterior edge and a rounded point posteriorly. It has a groove along the mid-line of the sole. The operculum is paucispiral with a depressed nuclear area towards the columella! side.
Colour. White, with numerous black or purplish flecks. The tentacles are black with white areas around the eyes. The proboscis is white. The operculum (pale in young animals) is nearly black.
Fretter, V. and Graham, A., 1982. The prosobranch molluscs of Britain and Denmark. Part 7 - Heterogastropoda (Cerithiopcea, Triforacea, Epitoniacae, Eulimacea)


Common all over the Mediterranean.
Scaperrotta, M. ,Bartolini, S. & Bogi, C., 2009. Accrescimenti, Vol. 2. Stages of growth of marine molluscs of the Mediterranean Sea. (secondary description)
From the Black Sea (var. annulata Milaschewich, 1909) through the Mediterranean and N. to the coasts of Norway. It extends into the Kattegat, though rare, but does not enter the Danish fjords.
Habitat. This animal lives on sandy-muddy bottoms from 5-70 m, but may occasionally be encountered at LWST when it is depositing spawn. It is probably moderately common but is rarely seen alive because of its sublittoral habitat.
Fretter, V. and Graham, A., 1982. The prosobranch molluscs of Britain and Denmark. Part 7 - Heterogastropoda (Cerithiopcea, Triforacea, Epitoniacae, Eulimacea)
Author: Jan Delsing

Links and literature

EN Galli C.: WMSDB - Wolrdwide Mollusc Species Data Base July 10, 2013 [] [as Epitonium clathrus Linnaeus, 1758]
Data retrieved on: 23 November 2013
CZ Pfleger V. (1999): České názvy živočichů III. Měkkýši (Mollusca), Národní muzeum, (zoologické odd.), Praha, 108 pp. [as Epitonium clathrus (LINNÉ, 1758)]
Data retrieved on: 11 November 2013
EN Petović S., Gvozdenović S., Ikica Z. (2017): An Annotated Checklist of the Marine Molluscs of the South Adriatic Sea (Montenegro) and a Comparison with Those of Neighbouring Areas, Turkish Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 17: 921-934 [as Epitonium clathrus (Linnaeus, 1758)]
SP Tarruella Ruestes, A. & Fontanet Giner, M. (2001): Moluscos marinos del Golf de Sant Jordi (L'Ampolla) y del Port dels Alfacs, Spira, 1(1): 1-5 [as Epitonium clathrus (Linnaeus, 1758)]

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