Chinese Mitten Crab

Eriocheir sinensis

Phylum Arthropoda / Class Crustacea / Subclass Malacostraca
Superorder Eucarida / Order Decapoda / Suborder Reptantia
Section Brachyura / Family Grapsidae

Distinguishing Characteristics

The greyish-green to light or dark brown adults characteristically have hairy, mitten-like claws of equal size with white tips (Horwath 1989, Nickles 1997). However, Panning (1938) remarked that no hair grew on the claws if they had been regenerated. Thus, it may be misleading to use characteristically hairy claws as the sole identifier of these crabs.

The carapace ranges from 47-87mm in width and is smooth and round to subsquare in shape (Hieb 1997, Horwath 1989). The legs are more than twice as long as the carapace is wide (Nickles 1997). Most importantly, the reliable distinguishing characteristic of the Chinese mitten crab is the four lateral carapace spikes [pic], the fourth one being rather small (Nickles 1997).