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Top 10 Largest Crabs in the World

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key point

  • As decapods, crabs belong to the same family as lobsters, prawns, and shrimps.
  • Thanks to their preference for warm weather, blue crabs are better equipped to cope with global warming.
  • Coconut crabs are the largest land crabs, growing up to 3 feet 3 inches and weighing 9 pounds.

There are more than 6,000 species of crabs inhabiting the world. Crabs are decapod animals that also include lobsters, shrimps, and prawns. These invertebrates belong to the Brachyura family and are covered with a hard shell to protect the body. Crabs also have ten legs and two claws. They also occupy a wide range of habitats, which may be terrestrial or aquatic. They are eaten by various aquatic organisms and considered a delicacy in many cultures.

In this list, we'll learn about ten of the largest crab species in the world. Each crab varies in size, and some can grow to be unusually large. The crabs on this list are ranked by the largest species based on their carapace width and quality. Let's take a look at the top 10 largest crabs in the world.

#10: Florida Stone Crab

Colorful a-href
Colorful stone crab isolated on white background.

© Process/Shutterstock.com

Florida stone crabs ( Menippe mercenaria ) are one of the most expensive species in the world and people eat only their claws. Their carapace measures 5 to 6.5 inches, but their claws are large enough for eating. Females are larger than males, but males usually have larger claws. Stone crabs have claws up to 5 inches long. The crabs are caught and then released back into the ocean after their claws are harvested.

Stone crabs can be found in the western North Atlantic Ocean. In South Carolina and Georgia, they inhabit salt marshes. They dig holes 6 inches to 3 feet deep near semi-shallow water. Besides humans, other predators include sea turtles, octopuses and cobia.

#9: Blue Crab

Biggest crab - blue crab
The blue crab has a broad carapace but weighs only about a pound


Blue crabs ( Callinectes sapidus ) are also known as Atlantic blue crabs and Chesapeake blue crabs. They are olive green in color and are mainly known for their bright blue claws. This species can reach up to 9 inches but only weighs 1 pound. Found in the Atlantic Ocean and throughout the Gulf of Mexico, this species is widespread and has been introduced to other parts of the world for its meat.

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Blue crabs feed on clams, oysters, small fish and decaying animals. Their lifespan is three years, spent in shallow water. In winter, they bury themselves to protect against cold temperatures. Blue crabs are better equipped to cope with global warming than other species because they thrive in warmer temperatures. Scientists estimate that the rate at which the crustacean survives the coming winter will increase by 20%.

#8: Opilio Crab

Largest Crab - Opilio crab
The Opilio crab is found in the northwestern Atlantic and North Pacific

© RLS Photo/Shutterstock.com

opilio crab ( Chionoecetes opilio) It is a type of snow crab, also known as opium crab. They live in the Northwest Atlantic and North Pacific. Male crabs are larger than females and can grow up to 6.5 inches long and weigh up to 3 pounds. These crabs have been found at depths ranging from 43 to 7,175 feet.

The opilio crab feeds on small invertebrates and forages on the seafloor. They usually live 5 to 6 years and mate before dying. Snow crab is caught off Alaska and Canada and sold around the world.

#7: Dungeness Crab

The largest crab - Dungeness crab
Dungeness crab is famous for its meat quality

© Jennifer Nicole Buchanan/Shutterstock.com

Dungeness crab (Metacarcinus magister) is distributed in the west coast of North America. They measure around 7.9 inches on average, but large ones can reach 9.8 inches. This crab is the most fished species in the Pacific Northwest. These crabs are especially plentiful above 150 feet and can be found at depths of 750 feet.

Dungeness crab is more expensive than other crabs due to the quality of the meat. They moult regularly in the fall before mating occurs. Men are attracted to pheromones in women's urine.

#6: Brown Crab

Largest Crab - Brown Crab
Brown crabs are nocturnal and hide under rocks and gravel

©Charlotte Bleijenberg/Shutterstock.com

Brown crabs ( Cancer pagurus ) are also known as edible crabs. Females are larger than males and can grow up to 6 inches, but in the right habitat, they can grow up to 10 inches. They are found in the northeastern Atlantic waters and can reach waters off Norway and Africa. They live at depths as deep as 330 feet.

Brown crabs inhabit burrows and hide under rocks and other debris. They are nocturnal animals and come out to feed at night. During the day they bury themselves but never sleep. They stay awake and watch out for enemies. Octopuses are their main predator, although they are often fished and farmed.

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#5: Red King Crab

Top 10 Shellfish - King Crab
The red king crab is endemic to the Bering Sea and areas around Kamchatka

©Larisa Blinova/Shutterstock.com

Red king crab ( Paralithodes camtschaticus ) is also named Kamchatka crab and Alaskan king crab. Red king crab is the largest king crab species with a back shell of 7 inches and a weight of 6 pounds. Their carapaces can grow up to 11 inches and weigh up to 28 pounds, although this is rare. Red king crab gets its name from the color it turns when cooked, but can be brownish-red to bluish-red and covered in sharp spikes.

The red king crab is endemic to the Bering Sea, the North Pacific Ocean and the waters around the Kamchatka Peninsula. In the minds of many, this species is the crab of choice, which is fished in the oceans in which they live. Their numbers in the wild have been steadily declining. Overfishing, large numbers of predators and global warming have been cited as possible causes.

#4: Giant Mud Crab

Biggest Crab - Giant Mud Crab on the Beach
Giant mud crabs are omnivorous and feed on other crustaceans, fish, molluscs and plants

©Jocelyn Watts/Shutterstock.com

Giant mud crab ( Scylla serrata ) is also known as mangrove crab, black crab, saw crab, and Indo-Pacific mud crab. The average carapace for this species is 9 inches, but they can grow to 11 inches and weigh as much as 11 pounds. They are found in estuaries and mangroves of the Indo-Pacific.

Mud crabs range in color from green to black and have spikes along the edges of their carapaces. Molluscs and crustaceans are their main food source, but they also eat plants and fish. Female mud crabs bury themselves in the mud, while males seek shelter in burrows. At low temperatures, they become inactive.

#3: Coconut Crab

Animals with exoskeletons - coconut crabs
Coconut crabs have the strongest claws of any terrestrial crustacean


The coconut crab ( Birgus latro ), also known as the robber crab, is the largest land crab. They can grow to 3 feet 3 inches and weigh 9 pounds. In populated areas, their presence is extinct, but they are found on islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Coconut crabs cannot swim and spend most of their time on land.

Coconut crabs are closely related to hermit crabs, but they have evolved to be huge. They have the strongest claws of any terrestrial crustacean, capable of generating up to 3300 Newtons of force. As larvae, they live in the sea for about a month before swimming to land. Young coconut crabs will live in snail shells until they grow too large. When they are big enough, they hide in underground burrows next to coconut trees. They live over 60 years and feed on small animals, fruit, nut plants and carrion.

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#2: Tasmanian Giant Crab

The Tasmanian giant crab ( genus Pseudocarcinus ) is one of the largest crabs in the world, with a carapace up to 18 inches wide and weighing up to 39 pounds. This giant lives in the muddy bottom of the continental shelf edge of the South Australian Ocean. They are most commonly found at depths of 560 to 590 feet in summer and swim deeper in winter at depths of 620 to 1,310 feet.

The Tasmanian giant crab (Pseudocarcinus gigas) lives in the waters off southern Australia and is one of the largest crabs in the world. They weigh up to 18 kg and have a shell length of 50 cm.

(Photo: Sea Life) pic.twitter.com/sBjojWwkba

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Tasmanian giant crabs eat smaller, slow-moving species such as gastropods, crustaceans, and starfish. They will also feed on carrion, which is dead and rotting flesh from previous lives. Male Tasmanian crabs are twice the size of females. The average male weighs over 30 pounds and the average female weighs 15 pounds. Males can weigh up to 39 pounds and have an oversized paw. Their carapace tops are red and their bellies are yellow or pale.

#1: Japanese Spider Crab

Largest Crab - Japanese Spider Crab
Japanese spider crabs rely on algae and sponges to hide from predators

© Tsarli at en.wikipedia/Creative Commons

The Japanese spider crab is the largest crab in the world. The Japanese spider crab ( Macrocheira kaempferi ), which lives near Japan, has the longest legs of any arthropod. Their claws can be up to 12 feet apart. Their carapace is 16 inches wide and weighs up to 42 pounds. The gentle giant can be found at depths from 160 to 1,970 feet around the Japanese island of Honshu, into Tokyo Bay.

The Japanese spider crab has a pearly shape with a narrow, orange head covered with black spots. To hide from predators, they use algae and sponges to better camouflage in the ocean. Large fish and octopuses are their most common predators along with humans. Measures have been taken to ensure that the population of this species is not reduced by overfishing. Feeding on seafloor decay could help this species live to 100 years old.

Top 10 Largest Crab Species in the World Summary

rank Crab size in discovery
10 florida stone crab The carapace is 5 to 6.5 inches, but the claws can reach 5 inches western north atlantic
9 blue crab Can reach 9 inches but weighs 1 pound Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico
8 opirio crab Can grow up to 6.5 inches and weigh up to 3 pounds Northwest Atlantic and North Pacific
7 Dungeness Crab Reaches around 7.9 inches, but larger ones may reach 9.8 inches north america west coast ocean
6 brown crab Can grow up to 6 inches, but in the right habitat they can grow up to 10 inches Northeast Atlantic, but reaches Norway and Africa
5 horseshoe crab 7" carapace and 6 lb mass allows carapace to reach 11" and weigh up to 28 lbs Bering Sea, North Pacific Ocean, near Kamchatka Peninsula
4 giant mud crab The carapace is 9 inches, but they can grow to 11 inches and weigh up to 11 pounds Indo-Pacific
3 coconut crab Can grow to 3 feet 3 inches and weigh 9 pounds indian and pacific
2 Tasmanian Cancer Carapace up to 18 inches and mass up to 39 pounds south australian ocean
1 Japanese Spider Crab 16-inch carapace that can weigh up to 42 lbs Japan


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about the author

Emilio Brown

Spiders, snakes, and lizards are some of my favorite types of animals, and I love keeping a few species as pets. I love learning about all the wonders nature has to offer and have been a writer for 5 years. In my spare time, you will find me walking into nature.

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