AQWA Facts: Peacock mantis shrimp
Scientific name: Odontodactylus scyllarus
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. Their claws move so fast that they create ‘cavitation bubbles’ – bubbles that cause small implosions of heat, light and sound when they pop.
Smash or spear
Mantis shrimp are categorised by the design of their claw; a spiked spear for piercing prey or a club-shaped claw used to smash and hammer.
The lightning-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 five more specialised cells than our eyes, including cells that are sensitive to UV light.
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 one another to establish territory and claim a burrow and mates.
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.
Did you know?
Mantis shrimp have the fastest predatory strike in the ocean. It is 50 times faster than the blink of a human eye and strong enough to break glass and bone.
Where at AQWA?
The peacock mantis shrimp is a part of our dangerous and deadly line up in the DANGERZONE!
Size: <30 cm
Diet: Fish, crabs, worms, clams, prawns
Main predator: Large fish
Habitat: Coral and rocky reefs
Found: Indian and Pacific Oceans