Pistol Shrimp

Pistol Shrimp Facts
Size 1.2 - 2.4 inch (3 - 6 cm)
Speed Unknown
Weight Unknown
Lifespan Unknown
Food Small fish, prawns, krill
Predators Fish, octopuse
Habitat Maldives, Philippines, Sri Lanka
Order Decapoda
Family Pistol shrimps
Scientific name Alpheidae
Characteristics Produces a loud snapping sound with its claw
Play Me the Song of the Shrimp

When pistol shrimps go hunting, they slowly creep up on their prey, seize it with their left claw, unlock the “revolver” in their right claw, and shoot.

With its right claw, the pistol shrimp produces bubbles of air, which implode with a bang and stun or hurt small animals.

Ouch! My Ears!

The stunning shrimps measure just about 5 cm, but produce a noise at more than 200 decibels. For comparison: A jet plane “only” reaches a noise level of about 120 decibels.

But there is more to it than that. During the implosion, the water heats up to more than 8,492 degrees Fahrenheit (4,700 degrees Celsius). This is almost as hot as the surface of the sun.

Pistol Shrimp Pistol Shrimp - Photo: zaferkizilkaya/Shutterstock

High Noon at the Coral Reef

Billy „The Pistol Shrimp“ Kid and Jesse „Pistol Shrimp“ James face each other in the midday heat. They slowly move forward step by step. The tower bell is tolling. Both draw. And shoot. Sounds like a western? It really is one!

When male pistol shrimps meet, they will have a duel. The aim is to find out who has the bigger gun! Yet, pistol shrimps are true men of honor. They would never hurt or kill one another. They always keep a safe distance.

Pistol Shrimp Pistol Shrimp and striped goby - Photo: RHePhoto/Shutterstock

Ooops, My Revolver Has Disappeared

Pistol shrimps are rather good at keeping their enemies away. But what happens, if one of them manages to harm their pistol arm? For most animals this would result in a painful death. But not for pistol shrimps.

They simply reconfigure their left claw as a pistol claw, while the right stump grows back as a regular claw. The little gunslingers just change from being right-handers to being left-handers.

Pistol Shrimp Pistol Shrimp and yellow goby - Photo: Song Heming/Shutterstock

Alpha Bravo to Echo Foxtrott: We Are Under Attack!

With their harassing fire, pistol shrimps even interfere with the sonar of submarines. They create a genuine noise carpet particularly in the tropical seas that are their home.

Pistol Shrimp Pistol Shrimp and goby - Photo: zaferkizilkaya/Shutterstock


Pupils are welcome to use this information at school for essays, presentations, posters or homework. All information appearing on this site has been precisely and thoroughly researched, nevertheless should you notice any errors, please do notify us via email.