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Scaly-tailed mantis shrimp, Lysiosquilla scabricauda, peeking out of its burrow. Photo by L. Holly Sweat, Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce.

Species Name: Lysiosquilla scabricauda Lamarck, 1818
Common Name: Scaly-tailed Mantis Shrimp
Scaly-tailed Squilla
Spring-tailed Mantis Shrimp
Synonymy: Astacus vitreus Fabricius, 1775
Lysiosquilla inornata Dana, 1852
Squilla scabricauda Lamarck, 1818

    Kingdom Phylum/Division Class: Order: Family: Genus:
    Animalia Arthropoda Malacostraca Stomatopoda Lysiosquillidae Lysiosquilla

    Species Description

    Mantis shrimps are crustaceans that resemble true shrimps and lobsters, each bearing a long tail and a short head with two large, moveable eyes. The namesake of this group of organisms results from the two retractable, spinous claws that are used to catch prey.

    The scaly-tailed mantis shrimp, Lysiosquilla scabricauda, is named for the series of tubercles and spines present on its telson, or tail (Voss 1976). Dark pigmented bands cross the body at intervals over a cream background color. The characteristic mantis-like appendages bear a row of 8-11 sharp spines on the claw (Voss 1976; Perry & Larsen 2004).

    Potentially Misidentified Species

    Several species of mantis shrimps inhabit the IRL and surrounding Florida coastal waters. Of these, the two likely to be confused with L. scabricauda are the mantis shrimp, Squilla empusa, and the ciliated false squilla, Pseudosquilla ciliata. S. empusa is considered the most common mantis shrimp in local waters. It is distinguished from L. scabricauda by its smaller size, green coloration, ridged carapace, and the presence of only six teeth on the claw (Voss 1976). The ciliated false squilla grows to a maximum length of only 10 cm, varies in body color, and bears three spines on each claw.


    Regional Occurrence

    The range of L. scabricauda in the western Atlantic Ocean extends from Bermuda, the Gulf of Mexico, and Massachusetts to Brazil (Diaz & Manning 1998; Tavares 2002). Shrimp are generally found inside burrows dug in exposed sandy areas.

    Indian River Lagoon (IRL) Distribution

    Information on the distribution of L. scabricauda in the IRL is scarce, but shrimp are located throughout the lagoon on tidal flats and in seagrass beds.


    Age, Size, Lifespan

    Reaching lengths of nearly 30 cm, L. scabricauda is the largest of the Florida mantis shrimps (Voss 1976; Diaz & Manning 1998). Lifespan varies with environmental conditions and other factors.

    Reproduction & Embryology

    Little information is available concerning the reproduction and embryology of L. scabricauda. Like most marine invertebrates, the scaly-tailed mantis shrimp reproduces via a series of planktonic larval forms, which feed on other plankton before settling to the benthos and metamorphosing into juveniles. Unlike the complete molts seen in adult crustaceans, the molting that takes place between the post-larval and juvenile forms of L. scabricauda occurs in stages (Diaz & Manning 1998).


    Temperature & Salinity

    Little information is available concerning the physical tolerances of L. scabricauda. However, its natural range encompasses marine and estuarine habitats in warm temperate to tropical climate zones. This pattern of distribution suggests that scaly-tailed mantis populations prefer and/or require warm, saline waters in order to thrive.


    Trophic Mode

    Mantis shrimps are carnivorous, ambush predators, combining their keen eyesight and swift, powerful claws to capture large prey such as fishes and other crustaceans.


    Detailed records on the predators of L. scabricauda are scarce, but large crustaceans and fishes possibly prey on this species.

    Associated Species

    Although there are no obligate associations documented between the scaly-tailed mantis shrimp and other species, L. scabricauda is commonly found alongside other organisms from the various coastal marine and estuarine habitats in which it resides. For more extensive information on these ecosystems and their associated species found in and around the IRL, please visit Habitats of the IRL.


    No information is available at this time


    Boyko, CB. 2000. The rise and fall of Lysioquilla desaussurei and description of L. manningi n. sp.: the tale of the type. J. Crust. Biol. 20: 48-55.

    Diaz, GA & RB Manning. 1998. The last pelagic stage and juvenile of Lysioquilla scabricauda (Lamarck, 1818) (Crustacea, Stomatopoda). Bull. Mar. Sci. 63: 453-457.

    Foster, JM, Thoma, BP, & RW Heard. 2004. Stomatopoda (Crustacea: Hoplocardia) from the shallow, inshore waters of the northern Gulf of Mexico (Apalachicola River, Florida to Port Aransas, Texas). Gulf Carib. Res. 16: 49-58.

    Holthuis, LB. 2000. Nomenclatural notes on eighteenth century stomatopoda (Hoplocarida). J. Crust. Biol. 20: 12-19.

    Perry, H & K Larsen. 2004. A picture guide to shelf invertebrates from the northern Gulf of Mexico. Online at (Date accessed 08/27/2010).

    Tavares, M. 2002. Stomatopods. pp. 246-250. In: The living marine resources of the Western Central Atlantic. Volume 1: Introduction, molluscs, crustaceans, hagfishes, sharks, batoid fishes, and chimaeras. Carpenter KE (Ed.). FAO species identification guide for fishery purposes and American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists special publication no. 5. FAO, Rome. pp. 1-600.

    Voss, GL. 1980. Seashore life of Florida and the Caribbean. Dover Publications, Inc. Mineola, NY. USA. 199 pp.

Report by: LH Sweat, Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce
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Page last updated: 28 September 2010

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