Stingrays need to have a well-balanced diet as what they eat directly influences their color, size, and shape. Of course, they also need to eat to survive and have the energy to hunt and mate.
Stingrays are carnivores which means that they eat meat as their primary source of food. Their favorite food is the animals that dwell on the ocean floor. So, worms, clams, oysters, snails, and crabs are on the menu. They also eat jellyfish, small fish and squid occasionally.
Freshwater stingray, on the other hand, feeds on insects and use a human-like chewing mechanism to break down the insect’s tough exoskeleton.
Stingrays hunt for food by skimming the ocean floor. They bury themselves in the sand as they swim along the floor. Their mouths are on the bottom of their body so it makes it easy for them to pick up their meal. Some also hide in the sand and attack unsuspecting prey.
Strange enough, most species of stingrays have their eyes on the top of their bodies. Useful for keeping an eye on predators above them as they move along the ocean floor.
However, through a complex system called Ampullae of Lorenzini, they can pick up electrical signals released by their prey wherever they may be swimming or crawling in the sand. Male stingrays also use this sense to locate buried females during the mating season.
Although most dwell on the ocean floor, some species like the manta ray are known to jump out of the water in a majestic display of sportsmanship. Ever wanted to know why? Read, why do stingrays jump for more information.
How Do Stingrays Eat
An interesting fact about stingrays is that they have no bones. Their bodies are made up entirely of cartilage. Some have several layers of thick cartilage with hollow struts that function as their jaw. Its jaw is powerful enough to crush the shells of crustaceans.
Other species only have mouths that act in a suction motion pulling prey in. They uncover prey by blowing the water through their mouth and flapping their “fins” over the sand.
When a stingray is threatened, their weapon of choice is their stinger. They use their long whipped/barbed tail to sting predators. Different species attack and defend in different ways. Read how do stingrays sting for more information. Because of this, stingrays are considered to be very dangerous when provoked.