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Leptograpsodes octodentatus (Family Grapsidae)

Burrowing Shore Crab



The Burrowing Shore Crab ranges from Wilsons Promontory, central Victoria across southern shores to the Houtman Abrolhos, Western Australia, and south to Eaglehawk Neck, Tasmania. (VIC, TAS, SA, WA, Houtman Abrolhos,)


The carapace, or shell, of the Burrowing Shore Crab is oval and broader than it is long, and it bends downwards strongly on each side. The width of the carapace width reaches 45-60 mm. Its surface is covered with low granules that become less distinct in large crabs. Four sharp tooth-like extensions of the shell are present on the carapace behind each eye, and three grooves extend over the carapace from the teeth on its edge, one being very noticeable. The cream coloured claws of male crabs are larger and longer than those of females. The immovable finger of the claw points downwards. The inner angle of wrist has a distinct spine, and one to three smaller spines are present on the inner edge. The carapace is yellow olive-green and purple-brown, with dark brown to yellow mottling or spots.

Ecology/Way of Life:

The Burrowing Shore Crab is found at high-tide level and higher, sheltering singly in burrows, rock crevices and under debris. These crabs occur along sandy ocean shores with medium to high wave action. They seem to have a preference for areas with a freshwater seepage, and are often found in water less salty that seawater. Their burrows may also be 100 m or more from the sea, and always above the high tide mark. They are rarely seen wandering during the day, and forage at night on the sandy beach for dead animals and plant debris. Females with eggs beneath their tail are common from December to Feburary.

Preferred Image

Interaction with Humans/Threats:

No threats to these crabs are recorded.

Other Comments:

This species was described from King Island, Bass Strait by Henri Milne-Edwards in 1857. The genus name is from the Greek: leptos = slender, grapsaios = a crab, and -odes = like; the species name comes from the Latin: dentatus = toothed, and the Greek: octo = eight, referring to the four pairs of low teeth (spines) on the edge of the carapace behind the eyes.

Further Reading:

Davey, K. (1988). A Photographic Guide to Seashore Life of Australia. p. 57, New Holland Press.

Edgar, G.J. (1997). Australian Marine Life: the plants and animals of temperate waters. p. 215, Reed.

George, R.W. (1962). The Burrowing Shore Crab of Southern Australia. Australian Natural History 14(3)

Hale, H.M. (1876). The Crustaceans of South Australia. Pts. I & II. p. 182, South Aust. Govt. Press.

Jones, D. & Morgan, G. (1994). A Field Guide to Crustaceans of Australian Waters. p. 182, Reed.

Marine Research Group of Victoria. (1984). Coastal Invertebrates of Victoria: an atlas of selected species. p. 121, Museum of Victoria. Golden Press.


Text, map & photograph by Keith Davey.

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Images and Multi-media:  
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Distribution Map  
image/gif 1021 bytes Distribution of Burrowing Shore Crab

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