Species Name

Common Name

"Crazy Crab", "Happy Hermits"


The carapace and the clawed legs lack distinct spines. The eyestalks are compressed from side to side. The stalks (peduncles) of the antennules are very long but the feelers (flagella) are short and compressed from side to side. These crabs reach a carapace length of 40 mm.


Cream or pale brown, with some variable darker brown markings, on the shield and on the legs.


Males and females differ only in the position of the gonopores


Occuring intertidally and higher up, above tide levels, up to 100m or so from the beach. These crabs are most common near mangroves but they also occur on sand and rocky beaches.


Northern Australia, from Exmouth Gulf to North Queensland.


Large numbers of C. Variabilis can be found behind mangroves, sheltering from the heat of the day under rocks or logs. They are very active nocturnal scavengers. The crabs are especially attracted to decaying material, such as dead fish on the beach, and even to the household garbage and pet's feeding bowls. They are also sold commercially as household pets, usually under the name of 'crazy crabs'.

Ref: Jones, S. and Morgan, G.J. (1994)
"A Field Guide to Crustaceans of Australian Waters".
Western Australian Museum. Chatswood, N.S.W. (Australia) : Reed Books, 1994.
ISBN 0 7301 0403 6

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