Shame-faced Crab

(Calappa granulata)


Shame-faced Crab IUCN NOT EVALUATED (NE)


Facts about this animal

The carapace of the Shame-faced Crab can reach a length of 8-9 cm and a width of 11-12 cm. The colour is rose or yellowish with 5 rows of crimson tubercles on the carapace and 4 rows on each forceps. The carapace is squat, rounded and convex with four convergent grooves between the rows of spots and flat spines around the margin. The mouth is triangular but it is hidden as well as the eyes by the large, depressed and triangular forceps of the first walking legs. Sight is directed upwards i.e. towards potential prey. So, there is no need to see ahead. The four pairs of walking legs are rather slim because rarely used. Abdomen and antennae are of the typical crab nature, the former being small, flat, lacking uropods and hidden on the ventral side of the body, the latter being short and inconspicuous. The gills to the base of the walking legs are hidden in the carapace. Genital apertures are on the ventral plates in the female and at the hips in the male.

The Shame-faced Crab rests inactively – sometimes for several days – in a sandy burrow just obtruding its eyes, antennae and upper parts of carapace and forceps. The large forceps will form a breathing cave behind them, hampering sand to run in. This attitude combined with the dorsal colour pattern will make a perfect camouflage. If it runs then it uprights its body and straitens its legs. To bury it presses its forceps against the ground like planks and pushes itself obliquely backwards into the substrate.

It feeds on mollusks. The specially formed forceps are well adapted to pick snails apart and strong enough to crack their shells.

Females lay their eggs from June to September.

The Shame-faced Crab is popular seafood, e.g. in Greece, Italy and Spain, although not very common.

Did you know?
that the Shame-faced Crab is not ashamed at all but needs his large forceps, which hide the face, as an adaption to its life style and food?


Name (Scientific) Calappa granulata
Name (English) Shame-faced Crab
Name (French) Crabe honteux, Coq de mer
Name (German) Schamkrabbe
Name (Spanish) Cangrejo real, Cajeta
Local names Italian: Granchio melograno
CITES Status Not listed
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
John McLaren



Range Mediterranean Sea and adjacent Atlantic Ocean from Portugal to Morocco, Madeira, the Canary and Azores Islands.
Habitat In soft bottoms made of sand or gravel from 13 to 400 m deep, common at depths of 30-150 m.
Wild population Not very common
Zoo population 0 reported to ISIS (2008)

In the Zoo

Shame-faced Crab


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
John McLaren

Why do zoos keep this animal

Although hard to see when buried it can be used for education by showing the complex relationships and strategies of life in a submarine habitat.