Although they may seem to be fixed to the rock, common limpets actually move around to graze on algae during moist conditions or when they are submerged by the tide. They return to the same spot by following the mucus trail that they deposit. This spot becomes worn by the edges of the shell, and eventually an obvious 'scar' in the rock is created. This helps the limpet to attach even more tenaciously to the rock, a strategy that protects it from desiccation (2).
Common limpets begin their life as males, becoming sexually mature at around 9 months of age. Most individuals undergo a sex change, typically becoming female at 2 or 3 years of age, although some remain as males (3). Spawning takes place once a year, usually from October to December, although the timing varies around the British Isles (2). Fertilisation occurs externally; the larvae spend their first few days of life in the water column, after which time they settle on the shore (2). Life-span varies, but is between 10 and 20 years (3).
In many areas, limpets have been collected as a food source for many centuries (3).