Calico Crab

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Project Description

Calico Crab

Hepatus epheliticus

Range/Geographical Distribution: Cape Cod to Mexico

Habitat: Sandy bottoms along beaches and offshore.

Description: A walking crab with a nearly round carapace that is covered in red and white splotches.  The claws are broad and shaped so that they can cover the crab’s “face.” 

Size: Can reach three inches in carapace (shell) width.

Food:  Buries itself completely in sand but when food is in range will erupt dramatically to seize it. It scavenges on fish, worms, clams, and other small invertebrates.

Breeding:  Females produce eggs in the summer and larvae are planktonic.

Predators:  Rays, fish, and sea turtles.

Conservation Status: No legal status.

Interesting Facts: Calico box crabs sometimes carry a tricolor anemone on their carapace.  The anemone’s stinging cells help to protect the crab and the crab offers the anemone mobility and meal scraps.

On the Coast: Calico box crabs are common along Georgia’s coast and pieces of their molts (shed exoskeletons) often wash up on the beach.

Project Details


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