Fiddler Crabs

fiddler crab
Sand fiddler crab, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Fiddler crabs are most commonly found burrowing within the sand and mud flats of tidal marshes. The crabs dig cylindrical tunnels to protect themselves from weather elements and predators. The entrance of a crab’s home is often decorated with balls of sand, created when the crab burrows into the ground. At high tide, they will use the sand to plug up the burrows to prevent drowning. You will most likely spot these creatures during low tide!

The fiddler crab is most commonly recognized by its square-shaped body and the oversized claw of the males. They get their name from their resemblance to a musician playing violin or fiddle, as males wave claw around to attract females during courtship. Enjoy a short video of this behavior here. The claw is also used for defense against other male crabs. They also make a fiddling motion while feeding: Although the female has adapted two small claws for eating, the male crab quickly eats with its only its one smaller claw at great speed.  They enjoy a diet of nematodes (a type of small Fiddler crab sketchworm), bacteria, fungi, algae, and decaying plant and animal matter. However, they are food themselves to a variety of animals within the mangroves including snook, redfish, ibis, yellow-crowned night herons, raccoons, and foxes. How many hidden crabs can you spot in our mural?


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“Florida Feature – Fiddler Crab: STEM-Focused Educational Field Trips: Nature’s Academy.” STEM-Focused Educational Field Trips | Nature’s Academy, 16 Oct. 2018,
“Invertebrates – Fiddler Crab.” Florida Fish And Wildlife Conservation Commission,
Kon, Dan. “Fiddler Crabs.” Imagine Our Florida, Inc, 21 Oct. 2019,
“Why the Size of a Male Fiddler Crab’s Claw Matters.” Youtube, uploaded by Smithsonian Channel 27 March 2019,
Painted fiddler crab
How many can you count in the mural?