Uca Pugilator - Sand Fiddler Crab | Kings Park, New York

© Sophie W. Smith

Joined October 2012

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Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Crustacea
Class: Malacostraca
Order: Decapoda
Infraorder: Brachyura
Family: Ocypodidae
Genus: Uca
Species: U. pugilator
Binomial name
Uca pugilator

Uca pugilator, the sand fiddler crab is a species of fiddler crab that is found from Massachusetts to the Gulf of Mexico. It lives in burrows in coastal and estuarine mud-flats, and can be extremely abundant. It can be differentiated from its congeners U. pugnax and U. minax by the smoothness of the inside of its claws. One claw is larger than the other, and can be much larger than the crab’s body, at up to 41 mm (1.6 in) long.

The carapace is square in shape, tapering slightly to the rear; it can reach a width of 25 millimetres (0.98 in), but is typically up to 21 mm (0.83 in) wide and 14 mm (0.55 in) long. The space between the eyes is much shorter than the eyestalk. The males have one extremely enlarged chela (claw), which they use to claim their territory and fight with other males. The claw can be much larger than the body, at up to 35 mm (1.4 in) long, or exceptionally up to 41 mm (1.6 in) long. It is common for males to lose claws in the battles. When this happens, the claw regenerates and the opposite side begins to enlarge. Fiddler crabs are right or left clawed. The inside of these claws are also very smooth, unlike its other close relatives Uca pugnax and Uca minax. Read more

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