Long-snouted Seahorse

Hippocampus guttulatus

  1. Wildlife
  2. Fish and sharks
  3. Long-snouted Seahorse


Also known as the Spiny Seahorse, the Long-snout's shape is distinctive of seahorses. They have been known to practice monogamy are thought to mate for life, and as such the loss of one partner can have detrimental effects on the other. Breeding pairs have been observed to meet in the morning and perform a display of courtship to reinforce their bond. They are the only species with a true reversed pregnancy where the female transfers the eggs to the male who self fertilises. After a gestation period of around 21 days, he then live-births the young in labour that can last for 12 hours with clutches of up to 900 eggs, though the exact number depends on the size of the male's pouch. Its curled tail is prehensile and is used to anchor itself to grasses and weeds against the current. Its diet is mainly small shrimp and plankton which it sucks up through its expandable snout. They are poor swimmers, relying on their dorsal fin beating around 50 beats per second for propulsion and pectoral fins for direction.

How to identify

Fleshy protuberances along its back give the impression of a horse's mane. Its angular body, framed by tubercles is usually a greenish-yellow, though they can change colour to match their surroundings.

Where to find it

All around the British Isles.


When to find it

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

How can people help

Seahorses are now under threat of extinction due to the rise of domestication, the gift trade and their believed medicinal properties. You should never buy a seahorse as a pet as they cannot adapt after being taken from the sea and less than 1% of captured seahorses last longer than 6 weeks. It’s not just seahorses that are victims of retail trade: you should never buy any souvenirs that contain any dried sea creatures such as seahorses, starfish, coral or sea sponges as many of these are now endangered species. If you see any shops selling these report it to illegaltrade@theseahorsetrust.org. Another threat for seahorses is the medicinal trade. The Chinese traditional medicinal trade, for example, removes approximately 150 million wild seahorses from the oceans for use as powders and medicines for their believed ability to heal illness. Our seas and coastline are in need of protection if we are to keep our marine wildlife healthy. The Wildlife Trusts are working with fishermen, researchers, politicians and local people towards a vision of 'Living Seas', where marine wildlife thrives. This work has recently had a massive boost with the passing of the Marine Bill, promising sustainable development of the UK's marine environment. Do your bit for our Living Seas by supporting your local Wildlife Trust.

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Species information

Common name
Long-snouted Seahorse
Latin name
Hippocampus guttulatus
Fish and sharks
Length: 15cm Lifespan: up to 12 years in the wild.
Conservation status
The Hippocampus Guttulatus is currently unlisted on the IUCN Red List due to deficient data (DD), but was previously listed as Vunerable (VU).