Common prawn

Scientific name: Palaemon serratus
The Common prawn is a familiar sight to anyone who has spent time exploring rockpools - particularly their characteristic quick dart into the darkness just as you go to catch them in your net!

Species information


Length: up to 11cm

Conservation status


When to see

January to December


Common prawns are found in rockpools and shallow waters down to around 40m deep, normally hiding in crevices or under stones. Common prawns are scavengers and will eat anything they find, from decaying seaweed to dead mussels. There is a very similar, closely related species also found in rockpools called the Rockpool Shrimp.

How to identify

A large shrimp with a translucent body with brownish-red tiger stripes along the length. It has large eyes separated by a serrated rostrum. Its walking legs are banded with reddish-brown and bright yellow and it has very long brown antennae. It is virtually identical to the Rockpool Shrimp (Palaemon elegans); they can be told apart by the number of teeth on the rostrum.


Found on rocky shores all around UK coasts.

Did you know?

Female common prawns carry their fertilised eggs around on their legs, carrying up to 4000!

How people can help

Locally caught Common prawns are okay to eat occassionally - especially if they are caught in pots. Most of the prawns and shrimp we eat in the UK are imported from overseas, including tropical species such as Tiger prawns or King prawns and cold water species such as the Northern prawn. When choosing prawns, buy those that come from certified sustainable fisheries - look for the blue MSC logo or check out for more information. When rockpooling, be careful to leave everything as you found it - replace any rocks you turn over, put back any crabs or fish and ensure not to scrape anything off its rocky home. The Wildlife Trusts are working with sea users, scientists, politicians and local people towards a vision of 'Living Seas', where marine wildlife thrives. Do your bit for our Living Seas by supporting your local Wildlife Trust or checking out our Action Pages.