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Uca flammula (Family Ocypodidae)

Flamed Fiddler Crab


The Flamed Fiddler Crab has a northern tropical Australian distribution. It ranges from Exmouth Gulf, WA, across northern shores, including the NT, to the Gulf of Carpentaria, Qld (WA, NT, QLD).


The Flamed Fiddler Crab is a brilliant red and black coloured fiddler crab and is very distinctive. The carapace of the male crab feels smooth but appears to be finely granular, while the female carapace both feels and appears to be finely granular. The front of the carapace is narrow and the frontal groove is deep and narrow. The eyebrows are narrow and long and extend to three-quarters the length of the eye channel. The immoveable finger, the dactyl, is longer than the immoveable manus of he chelae. The median groove on he lower finger is long and distinct, running most of the length of the finger. There is no felt pile in the gap between the fingers.

The carapace is black in colour with some orange. The adult male's major chelae is orange to orange-red. The eyestalks are pale purple-pink, The legs are orange-red. The female may have black on the high part of the walking legs. Young adults are usually brown with orange-yellow chelae.

For a full description see George & Jones (1982).

Ecology/Way of Life:

The Flamed Fiddler Crab is usually found on the muddy upper banks and shoulders of steeply banked creeks that are subject to tidal flow. It is usually found above Uca polita and below Uca parvo.

Interaction with Humans/Threats:

The Flamed Fiddler Crab occurs across remote northern tropical Australian shores away from human habitation. It is therefore probably not under threat.

Other Comments:

Uca flammula, Crane 1975. Haswell first described this species from a Darwin specimen in 1882 who gave it the name Gelasimus arcuatus. Other synonyms are Gelasimus coarctata, Saville-Kent 1897, Uca forcipata, Rathbun 1914, Uca dussumieri, Rathbun 1924, Uca (Deltuca) (coarctata) coactata flammula, Crane 1975.

Flammula is the diminutive of the Latin word flamma, meaning flame.

Further Reading:

Davey, K. (1998) A Photographic Guide to Seashore Life of Australia. p.64, New Holland Press, Sydney.

Jones, D. & Morgan, G. (1994). A Field Guide to Crustaceans of Australian waters. p.198, Reed.

George, R. W. & Jones, D. S. (1982). A Revision of the Fiddler Crabs of Australia (Ocyponinae: Uca). Records of the Western Australian Museum, Suppl. No. 14. P.40-44.


Text, map & photograph by Keith Davey.

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