What would you get if you crossed a praying mantis with a sea dwelling shrimp? A mantis shrimp. What if you went further and painted it a bright green with stunning red and blue accents? You will end up with a peacock mantis shrimp, one of the most beautiful members of the genus stomatopod. Their scientific names is the tongue twisting Odontodactylus scyllarus.

The stomatopods make up one of the most unique members of the Arthropoda phylum. At first sight, they truly do resemble the land going praying mantis in shape. They are long with large eyes and have two large appendages that are held up much like a praying mantis would.

While the praying mantis may be an effective predator on land, the peacock mantis shrimp is absolutely lethal under water. Their common nicknames among scuba diver are “thumbsplitters”, owing to their ability to cut through the flesh of the unfortunate finger that was in the wrong rock at the wrong time.

They can reach lengths of more than a foot in the wild. This makes them somewhat larger members of the stomatopod genus.

They are a type of “smasher” mantis shrimp. This means that their main weapons (Striking appendages) are bludgeoning in nature. They rely on bruising force rather than slicing to defend their territory or to hunt prey.

And they strike with a speed that can be compared with a.22 caliber bullet. It is that strong. Such force is mainly used on other unfortunate crustaceans that they constantly prey on.

They are a site attached, burrowing creature. They will normally find a spot with ample rock and enough sand to make their homes in. This behavior is also true in the marine aquarium. But because they are such lethal predators, most owners set up aquariums strictly for the housing of the peacock mantis shrimp.

The peacock mantis shrimp as well as all smasher stomatopods have been designed to smash through armor with ease. As such, their prey usually consist of other shelled creatures such as snails, hermit crabs, regular crabs, ornamental shrimp as well as the occasional fish or two.

Upon finding their prey, they quickly attempt to smash through their armor, killing it or subduing it. At which time they invariably drag the unfortunate morsel back to their den for consumption.

Because they are a popular item in the marine aquarium trade, there has been a wealth of information available from the pool of experiences available. They can break the glass of the tank with ease. However, such incidents are rare.

We also know that they aggressively defend their territory and will hunt down any shrimp, crabs and some fish that share the same quarters. It is for this very reason that these beautiful creatures require a tank of their own. And many hobbyists have done just that.

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