Sheep Crab
Loxorhychus grandis

Physical Description

  • Teardrop-shaped body with a spiny, bumpy shell
  • Spinelike points on downward-facing snout
  • Eight long, spindly legs with big, knobby joints, and two claws
  • Males reach a diameter of 6.5 inches and have larger claws; females reach a diameter of 4.5 inches

Range

  • Point Reyes, California to Baja California, Mexico

Habitat

  • Depths of 20-500 feet
  • Rocky reefs and pilings

Diet

  • Scavengers, they eat living or dead things on the seafloor
  • Known to eat octopi, starfish, and clams

Predators

  • Cabezon, California sheephead, octopus, sharks, and rays

Interesting Facts

  • Young sheep crabs mask their bodies with barnacles, bryozoans, hydroids, and algae. As adults, they develop a film of fuzzy green algae to disguise themselves. The name sheep crab may come from this fuzzy layer. 
  • They live to be about four years old
  • They are the largest species of California spider crabs

Sources: California Sea Grant; Monterey Bay Aquarium

Photo: Herb Gruenhagen

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