The Flamingo Tongue Snail is a brilliantly colored, small species of sea snail. They represent a marine gastropod mollusk and remain the most common of the numerous types of sea snail native to their habitat range.
The Flamingo Tongue Snail primarily lives in the warmer waters of the western Atlantic Ocean. This extends from the northern coast of Brazil to the state of North Carolina, in the United States, in North America.
The species was once quite common. Unfortunately, human tourism severely reduced their numbers. Divers and snorkelers take the seemingly empty shells and are typically unaware that the source of the brilliant colors does not reside in the shell itself.
Flamingo Tongue Snail Physical Description
While still living, the species generally displays a brilliant orange and yellow and have beautiful random black markings. Furthermore, these colors actually come from live tissue covering the shell itself. This covering can be withdrawn at will, but that rarely occurs while the creature lives. When the creature dies, the colors fade.
The animal attains a maximum known shell length of about 1.7 in (4.3 cm). The shape of the shell typically shows elongated and the underside generally appears either pink or white, and quite smooth.
Flamingo Tongue Snail Diet and Habitat
The Flamingo Tongue Snail inhabits shallow regions of the ocean which extends from the surface to a maximum recorded depth of 95 ft (29 m).
The animal lives almost solely among coral reefs and feeds exclusively upon the flesh of soft coral. They have evolved an almost symbiotic relationship with the coral. The Flamingo Tongue Snail feeds by scraping the fresh polyps off of the coral and then feeds upon that. As most things in nature, this process is also perfect: it does not harm the original coral, which subsequently regrows the polyp.