Animal Species:Hermit Crab

Sydney has several species of hermit crabs, which are mostly found in intertidal areas of rocky shores, beaches and mangroves. Pagurus sinuatus is a common species found on Sydney's rocky shore.

Hermit crab without shell

Dr Isobel Bennett © Australian Museum

Standard Common Name

Hermit Crab

Identification

The Hermit Crab is easily identified by its red colour and hairy claws.

Size range

10 cm

Distribution

The Hermit Crab is found from Sydney in New South Wales; Victoria; South Australia to Shark Bay in Western Australia. Also New Zealand.

Habitat

The Hermit Crab lives on intertidal rocky shores and in mangroves and estuaries.

Feeding and Diet

Like most hermit crabs, Pagurus sinuatus is a scavenger but may also feed on crabs and other live prey.

Other behaviours and adaptations

Hermit crabs are unlike other crabs because their abdomen is not covered by an exoskeleton, but is soft and delicate. To overcome this problem, they use discarded snail shells for protection. Like other crustaceans, hermit crabs moult in order to grow, but when their shell becomes too small they must go in search of another one. They inspect the shells by holding them up and turning them over before leaving the safety of their current home. Sometimes the chosen shell just isn't right so they move back to their original shell and start the search again. Competition can be tough for the best shells and occasionally fights break out between hermit crabs.

Classification

Species:
sinuatus
Genus:
Pagurus
Family:
Paguridae
Infraorder:
Anomura
Suborder:
Pleocyemata
Order:
Decapoda
Superorder:
Eucarida
Class:
Malacostraca
Subphylum:
Crustacea
Phylum:
Arthopoda
Kingdom:
Animalia

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Tags crabs, crustaceans, arthropods, invertebrates, wildlife of sydney, identification,