Talparia talpa (Linnaeus, 1758)
Mole cowry, 38-101mm

Talparia talpa is found in a variety of habitats throughout the atoll. Living specimens are most often observed under rocks on lagoon interisland reefs and pinnacles, but numerous dead specimens can be found in seaward reef surge channels. Living animals have been observed at depths of about 3-30m and deeper. Seaward reef specimens tend to live well back in caves and are typically found only at night. The smallest specimens seem to come from the tops of lagoon pinnacles. The largest specimens are usually empty shells found on lagoon shipwrecks. The mantle color varies from jet black to black with numerous white to greenish specks. This species is found throughout the Indo-Pacific.

Talparia talpa has large cylindrical papillae rounded at the tips.

Shell color varies from mostly yellow dorsally to banded with light to darker brown. The base, invisible in these photos under the mantle, is black. Some cowries are very shy about putting out their mantle for the camera. It is tough to get a mantle shot of Leporicypraea mappa, for example. But with Talparia talpa it is tough to coax them to put the mantle down far enough so you can see the shell.

While the most common mantle coloration in Talparia talpa is black with greenish spots, a few animals have a solid black mantle.

The next three photos show a specimen gradually extending its mantle to cover the shell.

The large individual below was seen under a large rock on a shallow lagoon reef.

This juvenile specimen has exceptionally dark brown bands.

A pair with an egg mass inside a rocky crevice.

Created 1 April 2008
Updated 14 October 2012

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