Fiddler Crab Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Diane Sieverson

Diane has taught all subjects at the elementary level, was the principal of a K-8 private school and has a master's degree in Measurement and Evaluation.

Fiddler crabs are a kind of crab that can be found on some beaches. This lesson will teach you about fiddler crabs, what they look like, how they got their interesting name, where you can find them, and some other neat facts about this crab.

What are Fiddler Crabs?

Imagine walking along the beach. You see a little hole and decide to stand still to see if anything pops out. Although it takes a while, a small crab finally makes an appearance and you notice the tiny creature has one really big claw! You've just seen a fiddler crab!

Fiddler crabs are small crabs that dig burrows in the sand in some beaches. Males fiddler crabs have one very large claw.

Male fiddler crab
Male fiddler crab

Female fiddler crabs are smaller and only have small claws, so it's easy to tell them apart from the males. The fiddler crabs that live in the US can grow to be as big as 1 ½ inches.

Fiddler crabs also have gills, like a fish, so they can live underwater. But they have a basic lung that lets them breathe on land, too.

What a Giant Claw You Have!

You might think having one really big claw would be awkward and clumsy, like one of your hands being a lot bigger than your other one, but male fiddler crabs put them to good use.

If they want to get the attention of a lady fiddler crab, they wave that big claw at her, like they are playing a fiddle, to show off and get her attention. This is how they got their name.

Male fiddler crabs also use those claws to fight with other male crabs to get the best places to build burrows in the sand. But unlike people's hands, if their claws get damaged, they can just grow new ones.

Where do Fiddler Crabs Live?

Fiddler crabs live in parts of the world that are warm or hot and tropical, including some US beaches. They are usually found in big groups, though they live alone in their own watery hole, or burrow, that they dig out.

Fiddler crab in its burrow
Fiddler crab in its burrow

But don't be fooled by that little hole. Some fiddler crabs' burrows can go down as far as 3 feet into the sand. That's only 6 inches shorter than the average elephant's tail!

When the tide rolls in, the fiddler crab puts a mud plug in its burrow hole, the way you close your front door, to keep the water out. When its low tide and the water level goes back down, the fiddler crab moves the plug and comes out for a meal.

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