Molting behavior


New member
I'm curious what everyone's experience is with molts.

We just returned from a 10 day vacation and returned to a seemingly normal pet. Last night I took a look at our O. Scyllarus after hearing some hammering going on. She was holding one of her clubs and then tossed it out at me?!? I thought she was stressing and had pulled her clubs off as I had read of here on the forum. After a closer look I could see that she was "all-there" and she did seem much bigger than I thought she was.

Apparently she molted some time while we were away but the one club was the only discarded shell I saw. Also today, that piece had disappeared also.

Do mantises consume their molts?


Yes, most stomatopods eat their molt skins except for the very hardest parts like the dactylys. The molt skin is a good source of calcium needed to harden the new skin.

There is some variation in how quickly the skin is eaten. Most gonodactylids will eat the softer parts within 24 hours and finish off the hard bits a day or two later.

Odontodactylids will often bury their skin away from the burrow and then dig it up again in a few days to consume it. When I first saw this behavior in the lab I assumed it was an artifact of captivity. However, when I placed underwater video cameras on animals in the field, I recorded several instances where an animal emerged from its burrow carrying the skin, buried it a foot or two from the burrow entrance, and then returned later to dig it up. Odontodactylids do not seal up their burrows for any length of time when molting and I suspect that the burying behavior is related to removing an odour generated by the skin.

In contrast, Lysiosquilliina maculata, the large (up to 40 cm) striped spearer that lives in monogamous pairs in huge burrows will seal its burrow and remain inside for up to a couple of weeks during molting. The plug is usually 6 to 10 inches thick and the burrow appears to disappear - only to be opened later. If the animals molted , all that I find are two pairs of raptorial appendage dactyls, one set from the female and the other from the male. (You can tell them apart because the male dactyls are much larger).

Thanks very much for excellent info Dr. Roy. :)

I'll have to observe and see what she did with the dactyls. If they're not buried or consumed maybe they're part of her den construction now.

Thanks much!