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Species Name: Batillaria minima
Common Name: West Indian False Cerith
Synonymy: Batillaria albocoopertum Davis, 1904
Batillaria clathratum Menke, 1828
Batillaria degenerata Dall, 1894
Batillaria nigrescens Menke, 1828
Batillaria rawsoni Morch, 1876
Batillaria septemstriatum Say, 1832

    Kingdom Phylum/Division Class: Order: Family: Genus:
    Animalia Mollusca Gastropoda Neotaenioglossa Batillariidae Batillaria

    Species Description

    The shell of the West Indian false cerith, Batillaria minima, is elongate with 6-8 whorls opening to an oval aperture (Abbott & Morris 1995). Sutures separating the whorls are well-defined, the apex is sharp, and a series of low vertical ribs on the shell are interrupted by irregular knobby ridges.


    Regional Occurrence

    The range of B. minima extends from southern Florida to Brazil, and Bermuda (Abbott & Morris 1995). Populations are commonly found in shallow waters on exposed mud and sand flats.

    IRL Distribution

    The distribution of the West Indian false cerith in the IRL is likely undocumented. However, the range of the species suggests it occurs most commonly on tidal flats in southern areas of the lagoon.


    Age, Size, Lifespan

    The West Indian false cerith is a tiny snail, with a shell measuring up to about 1.3 cm in length (Abbott & Morris 1995). Lifespan varies with environmental conditions and other factors.


    Temperature & Salinity

    Little information is available concerning the physical tolerances of B. minima. However, its natural range encompasses marine and estuarine habitats in tropical and subtropical climate zones. This pattern of distribution suggests that populations of the snail prefer and/or require warm, saline waters in order to thrive.


    Trophic Mode

    Although studies involving the dietary preferences of the West Indian false cerith are absent or elusive, the snail likely forages on detritus and algal material growing on mud and sand flats


    Little information is available concerning the predators of B. minima. However, several species of crustaceans, birds, fishes and other carnivorous snails likely prey upon the West Indian false cerith. When threatened, B. minima can retreat far enough into its shell to often protect itself from cracks and chips made in the lip of the shell by potential predators (Örstan 2006).


    Several snail species act as primary or intermediate hosts for a variety of parasites, which are transferred to and from birds and other aquatic organisms. Studies have shown that the West Indian false cerith is parasitized by worms such as the trematode, Cercaria caribbea XXXI (Lafferty et al. 2005).  Worms are transmitted to B. minima through infected bird droppings and released into the water column where they may be transferred to marine crabs. Infected snails can usually be identified by the presence of trematodes where healthy gonads are normally located.

    Associated Species

    Although there are no obligate associations documented between the West Indian false cerith and other species, B. minima is commonly found alongside organisms from the tidal flat and mangrove habitats in which it resides. For more extensive information on these ecosystems and their associated species found in and around the IRL, please visit the Tidal Flat and Mangrove habitat pages.


    No information is available at this time


    Abbott, RT & PA Morris. 1995. Shells of the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts and the West Indies, 4th Edition. Houghton Mifflin. New York, NY. USA. 350 pp.

    Lafferty, KD, Hechinger, RF, Lorda, J & L Soler. 2005. Trematodes associated with mangrove habitat in Puerto Rican salt marshes. J. Parasitol. 91: 697-699.

    Örstan, A. 2006. Antipredatory function of the retractibility of Batillaria minima into its shell. Triton 14: 1-2.

Report by: LH Sweat, Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce
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Page last updated: 28 September 2010

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