Sheep Crab
Loxorhychus grandis

Physical Description

  • They have a teardrop-shaped body with a spiny, bumpy shell
  • Have spinelike points on their downward-facing snout
  • Eight long, spindly legs with big, knobby joints, and two claws
  • Adult males reach a diameter of 6.5 inches and have larger claws; adult females reach a diameter of 4.5 inches
  • Juveniles cover themselves with barnacles, bryozoans, hydroids, and algae for camouflage
  • Adults develop a film of fuzzy green algae all over their bodies


  • Point Reyes, California to Baja California, Mexico


  • Found at depths of 20-500 feet
  • Live on rocky reefs and pilings


  • Females are sexually mature when 4-7 inches wide, males at 4-9.5 inches wide
  • Males and females pile up on shore to mate
  • They hook back to back to mate
  • Mating occurs in late spring-summer
  • Females can store sperm when there’s an absence of males
  • Each brood includes 125,000-500,000 eggs


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


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

Interesting Facts

  • The name sheep crab may come from the fuzzy layer of algae adults grow on their shells. 
  • 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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