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Mantis Shrimp

Squilla empusa

Mantis shrimp have a flattened, segmented body. (The Southeastern Regional Taxonomic Center/South Carolina Department of Natural Resources)
Mantis shrimp have a flattened, segmented body. (The Southeastern Regional Taxonomic Center/South Carolina Department of Natural Resources)

The mantis shrimp is a crustacean with a flattened, segmented body and praying mantis-like claws. It burrows within muddy flats along the shoreline of the middle and lower Chesapeake Bay.

Appearance:

The mantis shrimp grows to 8 to 10 inches in length. It has a flattened, translucent body with a pale green hue. Its abdomen and carapace are segmented, with each segment outlined in dark green or yellow. It has three pairs of walking legs, four pairs of clawed appendages (called maxillipeds) and one pair of long, jackknife claws that resemble a praying mantis. It's emerald green eyes are on stalks located on the top of its head.

Habitat:

Live along the low part of the shoreline, forming burrows within deep, muddy flats. Burrows are complex, with many large entrance holes. They can also be found in deeper waters. 

Range:

Found in the middle to lower Chesapeake Bay.

Feeding:

Mantis shrimp eat live fish, crabs, worms and shrimp, including other mantis shrimp. They are aggressive, violent predator, using their sharp claws to spear or slice through prey with a quick, slashing motion.

Reproduction and Life Cycle:

Because of its secretive, nocturnal habits, little is known about the mantis shrimp life cycle and mating habits.

Other Facts:

  • Not actually a shrimp, but rather a shrimp-like crustacean
  • Mantis shrimp are mostly nocturnal.
  • Its distinctive emerald eyes contain more photo receptors than human eyes
  • The strike velocity of a mantis shrimp’s large, powerful claws is one of the fastest movements of any animal on earth. It takes a mantis shrimp less than 8 milliseconds to strike, which is about 50 times faster than the blink of a human eye.
  • Mantis shrimp claws are strong enough to wound a human, giving them the nickname “thumb splitters.”

Sources and Additional Information:




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