Animal Awareness Tip – Mantis Shrimp

Maideline Sanchez

A mantis shrimp is neither a mantis nor a shrimp; however, their physical features resemble that of both species. They can reach a length of up to 38 centimeters and they may exhibit multiple colors from brown to bright neon hues. They are common predators found in the shallow waters of the tropical and subtropical marine habitats, and they reside mostly in burrows and holes. The mantis shrimp are currently referred to as thumb splitters due to the fact that they are able to dismember small human appendages with ease. With their powerful claws, they are able to stun, mutilate, or spear their prey. In some rare cases, larger species of mantis shrimp are capable of breaking through aquarium glass with a single strike.

Did You Know? The swing of a mantis shrimp is so powerful that one of its mighty blows counts as two strikes due to the impact of its appendage on the victim and the shockwave that follows. Even if it misses, the shockwave is sufficient enough to kill or stun its prey.

Mantis shrimp are generally solitary animals that live in burrows and only come out during feeding time or when they relocate. In order to obtain their food, they either wait for their prey to chance near them or they hunt, chase, and kill them. The type of mantis shrimp is dependent on their claw structure. Spearers contain spiny appendages that are attached to barbed tips and are used to stab and grab prey. Smashers, on the other hand, contain a more complex club used to smash their meals apart. These appendages also possess a sharp edge which can cut prey while the mantis shrimp swims. The strike of a smasher is so rapid that they may swing at speeds equal to that of a .22 caliber bullet.