When I went to purchase my three BiMac octopuses from a [somewhat] local
breeder, he showed me his pet mantis shrimp. Known as cleaver and
stealthy hungers, they are also known as "thumb splitters" because of the
way that they use their club-shaped front legs to smash their prey. One
BBC camera crew filmed this in slow motion, and estimated the speed of
the leg at about 75 feet per second! Mine often will make sharp cracking
noises, that can be heard clear across the room.
In addition to being respected predators, they are also colorful,
beautiful, shy, and graceful. Mine has grown to be perhaps 6 inches long
and 3/4 of an inch in diameter, although you would hardly know it,
because it rarely ventures out of the cave it built in the rocks. Mine
has two spherical compound eyes at the tips of long stalks. When you
combine that with the multiple antennae, and almost uncountable legs, you
have a very strange creature indeed.
When I first purchased the specimen, it hid under a rock, but within a
few days, it started building a complex cave structure. It did this by
digging sand out from under rocks and moving sand around the base of
rocks until it had a nice den under the rocks, with multiple entry and
exit holes. It then moved pieces of macro algae in front of the cave
openings as camouflage, to the point where most visitors can't see it at all.
Here he is, just after arrival, out in the middle of the tank, before he could dig a home for himself:
Peering around a rock to see what is going on:
This picture was taken with a flash, so the colors are different:
Looking out from his den:
More Mantis Pictures!