Species encyclopedia

Tiger Cowrie

Cypraea tigris


The species lives in coral reefs up to 15 m deep.

It can also be found in intertidal zones, in lagoons and on the outer slopes of reefs, but not beyond a depth of 40 m.

This cowrie can be seen both day and night. It is an omnivore, feeding on algae, small animals and carcasses that it manages to devour thanks to its rough tongue called a « radula ».


Its mouth is at one end of an extendible tubular proboscis. The mantle (the fleshy part of the animal) is thin and translucent and can completely cover the shell.

The appearance of its shell has made it a high-demand item amongst collectors and tourists. In some parts of the Pacific, it is also eaten for its meat. Normally a commonplace creature, it is now endangered in certain parts of the world, and fishing regulations have been put in place in some instances.

There are several hundred species of cowrie. One of them (Cypraea moneta) has been used as decoration since prehistorical times, but also as a form of currency. Traces of its use have been found in China as far back as 2000 BC, and it was still accepted as payment in certain African countries toward the end of the 19th century.

Indo-Pacific region


Species encyclopedia

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