Upogebia africana lives in a permanent burrow including turning chambers and two entrances. The large hairy first legs and the smaller second pair form a sieve used to strain detritus food from the water current created by the swimming limbs on the underside of the abdomen. When feeding the shrimp moves close to the opening of its burrow.
The nippers are equal-sized and subchelate (the 'thumb' is almost absent, the 'finger' bending back to meet it). The first two walking legs have a spine at the base, pointing inwards.
This shrimp is popular as fish bait, and considerable numbers are taken by means of 'prawn pumps'. This activity is additionally harmful to shrimp numbers as trampling collapses the tunnels and kills the inhabitants.
Adult length is up to 40 mm, and coloration is green-brown.