Sand hopper (Talitrus saltator)

GenusTalitrus (1)
SizeFemale length: 8.5- 15.0 mm (2)
Male length: 8.2-16.5 mm (2)

Common and widespread.

Sand-hoppers are so called because of their ability to leap when disturbed; they do so by tucking in the tail, and rapidly flicking it out (2). Talitrus saltator is greyish-green in colour, with black eyes (3). One antenna is always much longer and thicker than the other (2).

Common on all coasts of Britain (2), this sand hopper is also known from Ireland, the north east Atlantic, the North Sea, and around European coasts, from Norway to the Mediterranean (2).

Found on sandy shores in association with decaying seaweed (3).

This sand hopper spends the day buried in the sand at depths of 10-30 cm, well above the high water mark. It emerges at night to feed on decaying seaweed and other vegetation along the strandline (2). Adults spend the winter in a dormant state above the spring tide high water mark, buried in the substrate at depths of up to 50cm (2). Burrowing into sand means that the sand hopper escapes desiccation (2). Juveniles are unable to burrow, so they retreat to recently deposited seaweed instead, where humidity is relatively high (2).

Like all crustaceans, the sand hopper's reproduction is tied closely to the moult cycle. Adults form pairs and mate after the female moults; most reproductive activity takes place between May and August. The female carries the fertilised eggs around in a brood pouch. Juveniles reach maturity by autumn, but do not breed until the summer of the following year (2). Females live for around 18 months, and die during their second winter. Males on average live to around 21 months, dying after the females (2).

Not currently threatened.

Conservation action has not been targeted at this species.

For more on this species see the Marine Life Information Network species account:

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:

  1. National Biodiversity Network Species Dictionary (November, 2002)
  2. Budd, G. C. 2002. Talitrus saltator. A sand hopper. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Sub-programme [on-line]. Plymouth:Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. (November, 2002)
  3. Fish, J.D. and Fish, S. (1996) A student's guide to the seashore. Second Edition. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.