The Fiddler on the Shore, the Fiddler Crab

By: Santi Marina

The fiddler crab is an arthropod. Arthropod means jointed leg. Specifically, the fiddler crab is under the subphylum of crustacean which includes familiar animals such as lobsters, crayfish, shrimp, krill and barnacles. At Telunas Beach Resort, you will find the fiddler crab in the mangroves or along the shore.

The fiddler crab is small in size, even the largest being slightly over two inches across. Like all crabs, fiddler crabs shed their shells as they grow. So, where did this little crab get its name? The answer is the movement of the smaller claw from the ground to mouth during feeding. It looks as if the animal is playing the larger claw like a fiddle.


Fiddler Crab 1

Males are characterized by a greatly enlarged claw while the other is small with spoon-tipped fingers. The large claw is used to court females as well as fend off male rivals. The smaller claw is used for feeding. The female fiddler carries her eggs in a mass on the underside of her body. She remains in her burrow during a two week gestation period, after which she ventures out to release her eggs into the receding tide.

Uca annulipes

Porcelain Fiddler – Uca annulipes found at Telunas Beach Resort

Fiddler crabs prefer to live out of the water on damp ground, even when they are sealed in their burrows during high tide, they maintain a bubble of air underground. They have tufts of hair at the base of their legs which they use to absorb water into their gill chamber through capillary action (Ng and Sivasothi, 2001).


Ng, P.K.L. and N. Sivasothi (eds.). “Fiddler Crab.” A guide to the mangroves of Singapore II: Animal diversity. Singapore Science Centre, 2001. Web. 6 Nov 2013. <>.