This species is very widespread throughout the tropical regions of the Indian and western Pacific Oceans. It occurs from South Africa to the Red Sea, India, Malaysia, Australia, southern Japan, Hawaii and Polynesia.
The typical habitat of L. scabra is the trunks, prop roots and lower branches of mangrove trees (mainly Rhizophora species, but also Avicennia and others), up to a height of 3m. The species avoids mangrove swamps that are very muddy or estuarine, and instead is most common on trees in relatively clear-water situations, on islands and promontories, or only on the outer seaward fringes of broad mangrove forests on continental coastlines. Where it is common, up to 20 individuals can be found on a single mangrove tree. Occasionally individuals can be found on driftwood on sandy beaches, or even on rocks in very sheltered situations.
The snails graze on the surface of the bark of the mangrove trees, ingesting cork cells, fungal hyphae and diatoms.