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.