The Sandhopper is a small land crustacean that is also known as the Sand Flea or the Beach Flea. It has the name ‘Sandhopper’ because it hops or leaps on the sand when it is disturbed. It can hop up to a distance of around twenty centimetres. Sometimes it hops onto people’s feet and ankles and bites them.
The Sandhopper looks almost shrimp-like in shape and is about one and half to two centimetres in length. It is a brownish grey colour and has a long arched body that has seven segments. Its tail-end is often tucked under its body, but the Sandhopper has to ‘untuck’ its tail and flick it out very quickly when it wants to hop. It has two pairs of antennae on the front of its head. One pair is quite long and the other pair is quite short. It also has two large round black eyes.
During the day Sandhoppers hide under the sand as deep as ten to thirty centimetres and emerge early evening and at night. They can often be seen in large groups on the sand, especially where seaweed has been washed up on the shore. Sandhoppers feed on decaying seaweed or decaying algae.