information on the biology of species and the ecology of habitats found around the coasts and seas of the British Isles

Common tortoiseshell limpet (Testudinalia testudinalis)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.
Only coastal and marine records shown



A small conical limpet (up to 25 mm in length) with the apex anterior and smooth shell with fine radiating ridges. The external shell is dull white, grey, brown or green with a reddish-brown mottling. The mantle edge is copper-green with two rows of fine tentacles.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

A northern species its range extends south to Dublin, Liverpool and the Humber, it is absent from the southern coast of England.

Global distribution



Found on the mid shore into the sublittoral (to depths of 50 m) on boulders and small smooth stones, especially those that bear red algae.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Small, up to 25 mm in length.
  • Apex on anterior half of shell.
  • Smooth shell with fine radiating ribs.
  • Shell dull white, grey or brown with reddish brown lines radiating from apex.

Additional information

Eggs are laid in spring and early summer, on firm substrata, as a single layer in a mucus sheet.

Listed by

- none -

Further information sources

Search on:


  1. Fish, J.D. & Fish, S., 1996. A student's guide to the seashore. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  2. Graham, A., 1988. Molluscs: prosobranchs and pyramellid gastropods (2nd ed.). Leiden: E.J. Brill/Dr W. Backhuys. [Synopses of the British Fauna No. 2]

  3. Hayward, P., Nelson-Smith, T. & Shields, C. 1996. Collins pocket guide. Sea shore of Britain and northern Europe. London: HarperCollins.

  4. Hayward, P.J. & Ryland, J.S. (ed.) 1995b. Handbook of the marine fauna of North-West Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  5. Howson, C.M. & Picton, B.E., 1997. The species directory of the marine fauna and flora of the British Isles and surrounding seas. Belfast: Ulster Museum. [Ulster Museum publication, no. 276.]

  6. JNCC (Joint Nature Conservation Committee), 1999. Marine Environment Resource Mapping And Information Database (MERMAID): Marine Nature Conservation Review Survey Database. [on-line]

  7. National Biodiversity Network (NBN) Atlas website. Available from:  Accessed 01 April 2017


This review can be cited as:

Pizzolla, P.F 2008. Testudinalia testudinalis Common tortoiseshell limpet. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. (eds) Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 17-08-2018]. Available from:

Last Updated: 17/04/2008