Mudskippers: Fish That Walk on Land

Prehistoric-looking fish with legs live among us, climbing trees, arguing over mud patches and crawling across land.

Like something out of a documentary on evolution, the mudskipper is an amphibious fish that walks on land.


The mudskipper holds water in its gills in order to “breathe” out of water. The fish’s pectoral fins act as arms that have well-developed muscles to carry the mudskipper’s body. Using the pectoral fins and tail, the mudskipper crawls and flaps its body across land in search of food. These fish eat spiders and insects – prey that is not usually found in the sea.

Not only can mudskippers walk on land, they can also leap in the air to heights of half a meter (around two feet), by bending and suddenly straightening their bodies. The mudskipper is also known for climbing mangrove trees in search of food. Because of these unusual actions, mudskippers have also been called kangaroo fish, climbing fish, mudhopper and johnny jumpers.

image source

Part of the mudskipper courtship ritual takes place on land, with the male doing ‘push-ups’ to reveal his golden chest and chin to the female.

Mudskippers take in oxygen through the water stored in the gill cavities and through the skin. Because they also breathe through the skin, mudskippers need to remain moist and will often roll in puddles while on land. Their eyes are particularly sensitive to drying out and the mudskipper use a wet fin to dampen them. Another method that the mudskipper uses to moisten its eyes is to retract the eyes into the eye-sockets.

image source

During the Devonian period of evolution, the first fish evolved legs and crawled onto land. This rapid evolution allowed the fish to search for new homes when their previous residence threatened to dry up.

Mudskipper “Footprints”

image source

In this photo, the mudskipper “footprints” are the small, round indentations. The other prints were made by birds in the area.

For more pictures and information on mudskippers, visit

Liked it
6 Responses to “Mudskippers: Fish That Walk on Land”
  1. Lost in Arizona Says...

    On March 9, 2009 at 11:39 am

    Ah, the mudskipper! There used be this cartoon called Ren and Stimpy that had a mudskipper on it. I don’t know why this article reminded of that goofy toon, but it sure brought a laugh and smile to my face.

  2. Tarra Buluran Says...

    On March 9, 2009 at 10:33 pm

    Gosh! My hair went up when I watched the first video, but it’s worth-sharing. It’s educational, too! I like it!

  3. T.Rex McGoogle Says...

    On June 18, 2009 at 10:20 pm

    I was really enlightened by the story of the little amphibian beast whose healthy appetite rids us of ants, one of the world’s biggest pests. Along with whatever else he may chew on. Your pictures
    were great and I love to read articles that tell me something new
    that I know little about. Nice job.

  4. Jacques Berkeley Says...

    On September 4, 2009 at 6:37 am


  5. paulariley Says...

    On September 16, 2009 at 9:14 pm


  6. harshalshah45 Says...

    On October 21, 2010 at 12:35 am

    mudskippers are really fascinating especially when i read this article thanks for the post

Post Comment
comments powered by Disqus