Sand hopper

Sand hopper

Sand hopper ©Dorset Wildlife Trust

Sand hopper

Scientific name: Talitrus saltator
Sand Hoppers really live up to their name, jumping high into the air when disturbed.

Species information


Length: up to 2cm Average Lifespan: 18 months

Conservation status


When to see

January to December


Sand hoppers are a type of crustacean. They are pretty small and spend the daytime buried in the sand at depths of 10-30cm or hidden in strandline debris. They emerge at night to feed on decaying seaweed and other detritus. Adults spend the winter in a dormant state, buried in the damp sand at depths of up to 50 cm above the spring tide mark.
They are an important food source for shore birds. Sand hoppers are sometimes referred to as Sand fleas. This refers only to their jumping abilities - don't confuse them with the bitey sand fly, Sand hoppers don't bite people.

How to identify

If you turn over rocks or seaweed you will often see them jumping out of the way. Sand hoppers are greyish-cream in colour with one antenna noticeably thicker than the other.


Found on sandy beaches all around the UK.

Did you know?

Sand hoppers are well known for their amazing jumping abilities - they do this by tucking their tail under their body and quickly flicking it out, hurtling them high into the air!

How people can help

Take part in a beach clean to remove strandline litter which marine animals can get tangled up in or eat.