7 Interesting Facts About Pistol Shrimp Or Snapping Shrimp


#1 Pistol shrimp producing a sound loud enough to break glass jars

The snapping shrimp or the pistol shrimp, which grows to only one or two inches, competes with much larger animals like the sperm whale for the title of ‘the loudest animal in the sea.” It is capable of producing a sound reaching 218 decibels, which is louder than a gunshot and capable of breaking glass jars, hence making it difficult to keep it in aquariums.

The snapping jaw of the Snapping Shrimp
Pistol Shrimp with its one normal and one snapping jaw

#2 It can be easily recognized by its snapping claw

A pistol shrimp is easily recognizable for its noticeable snapping claw which is larger than half of its body. It also has one normal claw. The snapping claw consists of two parts – the hammer part, which moves backwards into a right angled position and snaps into the fixed part. Hence the name snapping shrimp.

#3 It can regenerate its snapping claw

Snapping shrimp have the ability to reverse claws. If they lose the snapping claw, the missing limb regenerates into a smaller claw and the original smaller appendage grows into a new snapping claw.

#4 The loud sound is not the result of the claws hitting each other

Previously it was believed that the sound was created due to the two claw surfaces hitting each other but research has shown that this isn’t the case. What happens is that the snapping action of the claw creates a cavitation bubble that reaches speeds up to 62 miles an hour (100 km/hr.) and collapses with a loud snap.

#5 It’s snapping action leads to sonoluminescence

The snap of the bubble also produces something called sonoluminescence, i.e., emission of short bursts of light. When the cavitation bubble collapses it reaches temperatures of over 5000 Kelvin. That is almost as hot as the surface of the sun, estimated at around 5,800 Kelvin. This produces a flash of light which lasts for no longer than 10 nanoseconds and is not visible to the naked eye.
Watch the pistol shrimp’s snapping action in this fascinating BBC video.

Note : This Video is taken from BBC world wide youtube channel. It may not work in the future.

#6 Pistol Shrimp uses its superhuman ability to hunt preys

The pistol shrimp uses the snapping for hunting. Hence the name pistol shrimp. It lies in an obscured spot, such as the burrow. Then it extends its antennae outwards to determine if a prey is passing. Once it feels the movement, it inches out of its hiding place and releases the shot which stuns or kills the prey. It then pulls the catch into its burrow and feeds on it.

Snapping Shrimp and Goby
A match made in heaven – Pistol Shrimp and Goby

#7 It has a symbiotic relationship with the goby fish

Pistol shrimps have the ability to form a symbiotic relationship with some species of goby fish. Pistol shrimp shares its burrow with the goby and provides it with food. In exchange goby, which has much better eyesight, warns the shrimp when danger approaches. The shrimp keeps in contact with goby through its antennae and the goby alerts the shrimp by its characteristic tail movements and then both retreat into the safety of the shared burrow.

1 thought on “7 Interesting Facts About Pistol Shrimp Or Snapping Shrimp”

Leave a Comment