The Mantis Shrimp (Odontodactylus scyallarus) is a predatory crustacean that belongs to the ‘Stomatopods’ that live in the shallow waters of tropical and subtropical seas. They use specialized raptorial appendages to capture and subdue prey by either “spearing” the animals or “smashing” them with heavily calcified clubs; the species Odontodactylus scyallarus is a ‘smashing’ Mantis Shrimp using its large clubs to bash prey. Mantis Shrimp are not closely related to shrimps or the other decapod crustaceans.
The diet of the Mantis Shrimp consists of worms, crustaceans, fish and even cowries, smashing their shells open with its powerful front claws. They are considered to be a curious animal and will often venture out their hole to look at approaching divers. However if they are approached quickly or a diver makes a sudden movement they will promptly retreat back into their hole. They have independently moving compound eyes that give them a 360-degree panoramic view of their surroundings. It is recommended that divers do not put their fingers to close to this animal as the club of the Mantis Shrimp could easily break through bone. Aquarists have learnt the hard way that Mantis Shrimp are not suitable for aquariums as they can easily smash the glass tank. The Mantis Shrimp (Odontodactylus scyallarus) grows to at least 10cm in length.