Giant Decapod Crustaceans: 5 Largest Crab Species


Most of the largest crab species are from the oceans, and they are huge. There are over 6,700 crab species living in freshwater, saltwater, and even land as terrestrial crabs or semi-terrestrial crabs. The ones with average size are also quite intimidating sometimes with their large claws or pincers, let alone the biggest ones. Today, you are going to see some of the largest crab species in the world with me today. Let’s take a look, maybe you know many of them as well.

5Snow Crab

Leg Span: 17 centimeters (7 inches)

This is a type of Alaskan crab with long legs that also goes by the name of rock crab. Because of the length of their legs which are slightly shorter than king crab’s legs, some also call them “Queen Crabs”. A female queen crab is very picky when it comes to choosing a mate, they rather die than mate with a male they don’t like. A male snow crab has one claw that grows larger than the other, and that is the way to attract a female.

Snow crabs are one of the edible large crab species due to their taste of white meat in the claws and legs. At the same time, you can easily break open the legs to get to the meat which is different from most crabs. In case you are concerned, snow crabs are only harvested in 3 general areas in order to maintain their population. Those areas are Alaska, the Atlantic Coast of Canada and Maine, and the Japanese coast.

Fun Fact: A snow crab is capable of growing a lost limb back if it is still in the molting process.

4Coconut Crab

Leg Span: 0.91 centimeters – 1 meter (36 – 39 inches)

A land-dwelling crab with large pincers and an impressive ability to climb palm trees like this is one interesting species. But that’s not it, coconut crabs are also one of the largest crab species in the world as well. The claws of the coconut crabs are super powerful, with a force of around 3300 Newton. This is the reason why these crabs are able to break open their favorite fruit, the coconut, easily.

Being the largest land-living arthropods, coconuts are not their only meals. These crabs also eat other tropical fruits, dead animals, their own body parts, and their fellow coconut crabs. As anti-social and territorial animals, coconut crabs live alone in their burrows or crevices. Should any other crab enters the burrow of the other, the owner will not hesitate to kill and feed on it. At the same time, these crabs also keep their distance from each other during feeding time.

Fun Fact: Coconut crabs are attracted to silverware, and they will steal it from people.

3King Crab

image: nara

Leg Span: up to 1.8 meters (5 feet)

There are over 100 species of king crab, and all of them are super large. Among those 100+ species, Red King Crab is quite the biggest of them all. The body size of a red king crab can reach up to 28 centimeters (11 inches) with a weight of up to 13 kilograms (28 lbs). Most king crabs live in cold waters on steep ocean bottoms at a depth of 90 to 300 feet. Because of the inability to swim, king crabs move on the ocean floor using their long legs. Those long legs allow them to walk up to 100 miles during their annual migration or one mile each day. Apart from being one of the largest crab species, king crabs are also one of the most common edible crabs. These crabs are so expensive because of their delicate taste, but people still love eating them.

Fun Fact: King crabs are one of the rare animals with blue blood due to a large amount of hemocyanin.

2Tasmanian Giant Crab

image: Daily Mail

Leg Span: Up to 4 meters (12 feet)

The Tasmanian giant crabs can grow so big the size of their shell could be as big as a car’s wheel. These large crabs live in muddy and rocky parts at the bottoms of the Southern Australian oceans. Most big crabs move slowly because of their leg length and size, and it is the same as this one. As a slow mover, the Tasmanian giant crabs mainly feed on carrion and other slow-moving creatures like crustaceans, gastropods, and starfish. Usually, male Tasmanian giant crabs are twice bigger than the females, and the males have one oversized claw. Because this unique feature is to attract the mate, both claws of the females have a normal size.

Fun Fact: A female’s shell changes color when they are producing eggs.

1Japanese Spider Crab

Leg Span: Up to 5.5 meters (18 feet)

When it comes to the largest crab species in the world, Japanese spider crabs are always on the list. The leg span of these crabs is the largest of any arthropod, making these giant crabs the world’s biggest crustaceans. They go through 3 main larval stages and a prezoeal stage to get such enormous size. These marine crabs only live in the waters of the Pacific Ocean around Japan at depths from 150 meters to 300 meters deep.

Because of their ginormous size, these large crabs are very slow movers. So instead of hunting, they scavenge for dead animals or plant matter to feed on. Sometimes they also eat shellfish by using their giant claws to open the shell. Large bodies also mean large claws, and it is without a doubt that these large crabs can kill. The good thing is that they are not aggressive toward humans at all.

Another interesting thing about them is that the Japanese spider crabs can still live even after losing a few legs. According to some studies, they can also regenerate their legs as well. Despite their large size, these crabs are gentle and do so well in captivity. Along with that, they are quite good at camouflaging. The combination of their spotted bumpy shell with the use of kelp and sponges makes them look like rocks on the ocean floor.

Fun Fact: The Japanese spider crab can live up to 100 years old, and they never stop growing.

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