Mantis Shrimp

Squilla empusa

Image of a mantis shrimp against a black background.
Image by Eric A. Lazo-Wasem for the Yale Peabody Museum, CC0 1.0 (public domain)

Physical: Mantis shrimp are flat, large-clawed shrimp with three sets of weak walking legs. They have powerful “scissor-like mandibles,” and individuals grow to an overall length of 25 cm. Mantis shrimp are not true shrimp but shrimp-like crustaceans with praying mantis-like claws.

Habitat: S. empusa hide in complex burrows, often with numerous exits. They prefer muddy substrates and can be found in subtidal areas.  They are nocturnal.

Feeding: Mantis shrimp are fierce predators, eating fish, crabs, worms, and even other mantis shrimp. They spear or slice through their prey with lightning-quick movements of their powerful claws.  Their claws can also hurt humans, leading to their nickname of “thumb-splitters.”

Breeding: Mantis shrimp spawn in offshore waters.  Zygotes then pass through several larval development stages before reaching full adult size.

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