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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:

  • Flattened, translucent body with a pale green hue
  • Segmented abdomen and carapace. Each segment is outlined in dark green or yellow.
  • Emerald green eyes on stalks located on the top of the head
  • One pair of long, jackknife claws that resemble a praying mantis
  • Four pairs of clawed appendages, called maxillipeds
  • Three pairs of walking legs
  • Grows 8-10 inches long

Habitat:

  • Lives along the low part of the shoreline, forming burrows within deep, muddy flats
  • Burrows are complex, with many large entrance holes
  • Also found in deeper waters
  • Mostly nocturnal

Range:

  • Found in the middle to lower Chesapeake Bay

Feeding:

  • Eats live fish, crabs, worms and shrimp, including other mantis shrimp
  • Aggressive, violent predator
  • Uses its sharp claws to spear or slice through its 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
  • 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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