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Biology/Natural History: As with other wentletraps, this species feeds on anemones. It is usually found in sand near the base of Anthopleura elegantissima or Anthopleura xanthogrammica, to which the species is strongly attracted. At high tide (twice a day) it feeds on the tips of the anemone tentacles; then at low tide burrows into the sand. Living wentletraps contain a purple, toxic dye. The dye appears to be an anesthetic and it is thought that the snail may use it to relax the anemone tissues before feeding. While feeding it extends its proboscis which may be longer than the shell. The radula is extended with the proboscis.

The snail shows some attraction to Urticina lofotensis and Epiactis prolifera and it will feed on these species, but the attraction is less than that for Anthopleura. These anemones also show a stronger retraction when bitten by the snail, so perhaps the snail anesthetic is most effective with Anthopleura. They are not attracted to Corynactis californica and are repelled by Metridium senile. Some snails contacting Metridium senile were killed.

The species produces sand-encrusted egg capsules which are strung together by a thread. The capsules are laid among their anemone prey.

Small Pagurus hirsutiusculus hermit crabs frequently inhabit the empty shells.

The name "wentletrap" is from the German or Dutch word for "winding staircase".


Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 2.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

© Rosario Beach Marine Laboratory

Source: Invertebrates of the Salish Sea

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