Mantis shrimp have been given some less than friendly nick names, such as sea-locusts and thumb splitters (for the damage they inflict if handled incorrectly)!

Fists of fury

The peacock mantis shrimp can fling its fist-like claws as fast as a .22 calibre bullet! It uses these appendages to stun, smash and grab its prey. The claws move at 25m per second and accelerate about 6000 times faster than gravity!

Clubs and spikes

There are over 400 species of mantis shrimp each with either a club-like claw, for smashing open hard shelled food, or spiky forelimbs for spearing fish.

Eye spy

The lightening fast reflexes of mantis shrimp are powered by super eyesight- one of the most complex ever discovered. Their “T” shaped eyes are propped up on stalks, giving them wide vision and perfect depth perception to judge the precise distance of a target! They see more of the colour spectrum than humans, using 5 more specialised cells than our eyes, including cells that are sensitive to UV light.

Burrow bullies?

Despite their incredible weaponry, mantis shrimp are still on the smaller side (2-30cm in length) compared to other predators, so they hide in burrows and stealthily stalk prey, or attack it when it passes within range. Some mantis shrimp will engage in ritualised fighting with another to establish territory and claim a burrow and mates.

Colour communication

Mantis shrimp rely on colour to communicate. Some species have fluorescent colouring that is hidden when perched in their burrow, then becomes bold and bright when caught out in the light and is used to ward off predators. Colour is even used to identify individuals and help distinguish between a friendly neighbour or a possible foe.


Mantis shrimp are found in WA’s far north. Why don’t we have them at AQWA? Because a single thrust of their claw can break aquarium glass!