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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

Main Characteristics

Pistol shrimps are small crustaceans that live in tropical waters and use their claws to crack open their prey. They are also called snapping shrimp or alpheid shrimp.


Where Does the Name Come From?

When a pistol shrimp goes hunting, it stalks its prey, grabs it with the left claw. Then it releases the safety of the “revolver” in its right claw to "shoot". The pistol shrimp produces bubbles of air with its claw, which implode with a bang and stun or hurt the prey.

Pistol Shrimp Pistol Shrimp - Photo: zaferkizilkaya/Shutterstock


Senses and Abilities

Are Pistol Shrimp Loud?

These stunning shrimps measure just some inch, but produce a noise at more than 200 decibels. Just a 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 Can Regrow Limbs

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 striped goby - Photo: RHePhoto/Shutterstock


Are Pistol Shrimp Dangerous?

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 yellow goby - Photo: Song Heming/Shutterstock


Fun Facts

Pistol Shrimp Jam Submarine Sonar

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

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