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up to 6 centimeter in diameter


yellowish-light brown to brown-gray. Sometimes dark stripes running from the middle to the edge

special features:

shell often covered with barnacles


maximum 11 to 20 years


algae and seaweed


crabs, fisheries, starfish



  • Dut: Schaalhoren (patella, napslak, hoedschelp, puntkokkel)
  • Lat: Patella vulgata
  • Eng: Limpet
  • Ger: Napfschnecke
  • Dan: Albueskæl
Limpets, foto fitis, sytske dijksen


Limpets look like a cross between a pyramid and Super Mario's vicious mushrooms. They are often overlooked when attached to a stone and they move incredibly slowly. Limpets scrape vegetation off of the stones with their grating tongue. Should it feel threatened, it clamps itself to the rock. It closes the shell off practically air-tight, so that crabs and curious people can't get to them. You find limpets on floating objects from other coasts, such as on the base of sea thong.

  • Distribution and habitat

    The limpet is a rocky shore marine snail commonly found along the North Sea coasts, especially where there is a lot of wash. Indigenous limpets are rare on the Dutch coast since there are so few suitable habitats. However in England, they are found in massive amounts on the rocky coast.

  • Small world
    Limpets, Sytske Dijksen,

    Limpets look for a nice dent, split or hollow in a rock to serve as a home base.
    The shape of their shell adapts to the surface of this home base. In that way, they are totally closed off when they press themselves to the stone. Predators are unable to find the opening.

    An air-tight shell not only keeps predators away. There is also a supply of seawater during low tide. This prevents dehydration and overheating.

    At night, the animal leaves its home base to search for algae. It doesn't usually travel further than one meter from its base so that it reaches home safely before it gets light. Check out the weblink below for a nice film of grazing limpets. You can also see that limpets return quickly to their home base when it gets light and how they maneuver into their own space.