Cypraea cervus Linne 1758
under ledge by diver at 60′
Off Madiera Beach, Florida 2004

Cypraea cervinetta Kienner, 1843
under dead coral slabs,
shallow water at low tide
Pedro Gonzales, Panama


Deer Cowrie and Little Deer Cowrie. This month’s specimen shells are very closely related. They are near identical in color and pattern, both having fawn colored dorsums covered with hazy white spots and a clear area formed by the mantle line. Looking at the two side by side they are easy to separate. Cypraea cervus Linne 1758 is “plump” whereas Cypraea cervinetta Kienner, 1843 is “lean”. As a rule cervus is the much larger of the two. Cervinetta’s teeth are more strongly defined. Cervus is found in the Florida keys, the Florida gulf coast, Cuba and the Yucatan. Cervinetta lives on the west coast of Central America, most commonly found in Panama.

Both are noted for their extreme wide range in size. Cypraea cervus grows to the largest size of all cypraea, reaching a whopping 190mm (7.5″). Giant specimens which are very few and far between bring jaw dropping prices as they just don’t grow so large anymore. Today, typical specimens are 80-100mm. Cypraea cervinetta has dwarf populations going down to just under 30mm in size. Juveniles of both are banded. The banding gets glazed over in adults although most specimens of cervinetta will show some banding on the top of the dorsum. Fresh specimens have brown dorsums that fade rapidly to fawn even when stored in darkness.

The two specimens are close to “gem” in quality and are typical in pattern. They are donated from the collection of Richard Kent.