Mantis Shrimp – The Aliens in My Front Yard

Posted in Under the Sea on May 17th, 2009 by MadDog
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I’m a little tired of doing the travelogue thing every day and I’m a little homesick for my warm, wet, salty front yard. I’ve been working on some of my underwater images. I noticed that I’ve never done a post on mantis shrimp, surely some of the most alien-like creatures in my yard:

Mantis ShrimpThe shot above is a reworked version of one that appeared in A Nasty Customer and Fancy Pants. It’s a Odontodactylus scyallarus if it matters to you.

Here’s another shot from a different angle and different lighting conditions:

Mantis ShrimpI’m pretty sure that all of these images are the same species, but I don’t have my books with me.

It is rare to see a mantis shrimp in the open. They are very shy. I managed this shot when one was so surprised to see me that it froze for a moment before scuttling into its burrow:

Mantis ShrimpTheir eyes are mesmerising. They follow you and when you look into them you seem to be looking into a deepness that is difficult to describe. They have the most complex eyes of any animal.

They feed by clubbing or spearing (according to the species) their prey with their raptorial claws. You can see the clubbing behaviour in a very cool clip on YouTube.  I had one of these in an aquarium tank in our house:

Mantis ShrimpI fed it bits of frozen raw chicken. I would drop a chunk in the water and the mantis shrimp would come up to investigate. Then it would club it a couple of times, making sounds like firecrackers, and carry it back to its burrow.

Once when we had visitors, I decided to hand feed my mantis shrimp. It was a big mistake. It clubbed my thumb and split it open. It was so quick that I didn’t realise that I was hurt until I saw the blood streaming from my thumb.

Then came the PAIN!

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