Fun European Spider Crab Facts For Kids | Kidadl


Fun European Spider Crab Facts For Kids

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 The European spider crab (scientific name Maja squinado), also known as the spinous crab or the spiny spider crab, is a species of migratory spider that can be found in the waters around Europe. It belongs to the Majidae family and is a member of the Maja genus. This spider is mostly found in the ocean depths of the Mediterranean Sea and in the north-east Atlantic Ocean. This species is known for its long, spider-like limbs and orange, moss-covered carapace. Its 10 jointed feet are tipped with sharp claws which it uses to grip and open shellfish with.

Usually found half-buried among the sandy substrate and rocky sea beds, this non-aggressive marine common spider crab is highly regarded among seafood lovers for its sweet, tender meat. It is bred among fisheries and caught in bulk along with the coats of the United Kingdom, France, Spain, and Ireland for commercial consumption. Predators common to spider crabs include big fish, stingrays, and groupers.

 To learn more about the spinous spider crab, read on! You can also read about more amazing crab species on our king crab and blue crab fact pages.

Fun European Spider Crab Facts For Kids

What do they prey on?

Algae, mollusks, small fish, starfish, and seaweed

What do they eat?


Average litter size?

45,000-400,000 eggs

How much do they weigh?


How long are they?

6.69-8.66 in (17-22 cm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Oval orange-brown body with spines and 10 long jointed legs

Skin Type


What were their main threats?


What is their conservation status?

Not Evaluated

Where you'll find them?

Rocky Seabeds, Soft Sandy Substrate, Among Seaweed


Mediterranean Sea, North Sea, European Waters








Majidae family

European Spider Crab Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a European spider crab?

The European spider crab is a type of spiny spider crab, belonging to the Majidae family.

What class of animal does the European spider crab belong to?

The spinous spider crab belongs to class Arthropoda, containing a number of joint-legged organisms.

How many European spider crabs are there in the world?

Due to the vast number of individuals of this species available in the wild as well as in commercial fisheries, it is not possible to determine the population size of this great spider.

Where do European spider crabs live?

Maja squinado crabs are mostly found in European waters, in the Mediterranean Sea, and the north-east Atlantic Ocean. They are commonly found on the southern and western coasts of England and Wales, along with France, Spain, and Ireland from where they are fished for their tender meat.

What is a European spider crab's habitat?

These great spider crabs live underwater in the Mediterranean and North Sea and can be found buried in the soft sandy substrate. Adult males can sometimes be found in rocky sea beds, however, the ideal European spider crab habitat is in areas with soft sand or mud which they can bury themselves into.

Who does the European spider crab live with?

The spiny spider crab is a solitary species and prefers living by itself in the sea, burying itself into the soft sandy substrate. These crabs come together during the breeding season to mate, however, they do not nest together. The male may guard the female for a few days after mating in order to prevent other males from mating with her. Related crabs do not live together either, each going their separate ways after they emerge from their larval form.

How long does a European spider crab live?

European spider crabs have been observed to live for between five to eight years. They mature sexually by the age of two to three years, and tend to live for up to six years after they molt for the last time.

How do they reproduce?

Unlike other coast crab species such as brown crabs, spider crabs are able to mate even in their hard shell state and do not need to wait until they molt their hard carapace in order to mate. These crabs molt only until they reach puberty, after which they are able to mate. The breeding season generally spans across the summer months, with the males and females engaging in a complicated mating ritual, during which the female stores the male's sperm in her body until she is ready to lay her eggs. After laying around 45,000-400,000 eggs, the stored sperm is released upon the eggs which then are fertilized. Spanning the larval and juvenile stages, it usually takes two to three years for these crabs to fully mature.

What is their conservation status?

 The conservation status of these great spider sea crabs has not been determined. It is currently listed under Not Evaluated and can be found in abundance across the Mediterranean and the Atlantic.

European Spider Crab Fun Facts

What does the European spider crab look like?

The Maja squinado common spider crab can be described as being on the larger side. These animals are bright orange in color and have an oval-shaped, algae-covered shell. Their mossy carapace is covered in many bumps and spines, helping them to blend in among aquatic plants along the ocean bed. They have a total of 10 legs protruding from their oval-shaped body that become longer as the crab grows.

The European spider crab size (scientific name Maja squinado) is quite small compared to other spider crab species, and it is covered with a number of spines on its oval orange body.

How cute are they?

Despite generally not looking very appealing due to their long, clawed legs, these orange spiders can look quite cute towards lovers of sea life and aquarium enthusiasts.

How do they communicate?

European spider crabs mainly communicate through a technique called stridulation, in which they rub their legs together in order to produce various vibrations. They have ridges and bumps on their limbs which create vibrations of various frequencies and speeds which help to convey various messages. During the mating season, male and female crabs search for each other by releasing pheromones, a type of chemical substance which helps in attracting members of the opposite sex in order to mate.

How big is the European spider crab?

On average, the north east Atlantic Maja squinado crabs have been observed to measure between 6.69-8.66 in (17-22 cm) across their shell. With their claws outstretched, however, they appear much larger, spanning 19.6 in (50 cm) across from claw to claw.

How fast can a European spider crab move?

Though the exact speed of the spiny spider crab is unknown, it is generally slow and sluggish in nature, though it can use its long jointed feet to cover large distances by running over the sandy ocean floor. It is migratory and is known to cover around 100 mi (160 km) in a period of eight months.

How much does a European spider crab weigh?

The ideal European spider crab weight is unknown, with no reliable data currently available in order to determine how much they actually weigh.

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no specific names for either males or females of this species.

What would you call a baby European spider crab?

Baby crabs are called as zoea in their larval form. Young crabs are called as juveniles.

What do they eat?

Maja squinado spinous spider crabs follow an omnivorous diet, and they mostly feed on algae available in the marine depths. They are also known to search among the sandy seafloor for mollusks, seaweed, worms, starfish, and smaller fish. They will basically eat anything feasible available in their immediate surroundings and are not picky about what they feed on. These crabs use their strong claws to break open shellfish which they then feed on. Some of this crab's common predators include larger fish, stingrays, and octopus.

Are they dangerous?

This crab species is not harmful to humans at all. This crab is not venomous in nature, nor is it large enough to hurt humans with its claws. Though if threatened, it might try to pierce through your skin with its pincers, causing painful wounds. However, they are not aggressive by nature and the chances of this happening are very low.

Would they make a good pet?

Yes, European spider crabs can be kept as pets. However, they must be provided with proper tank conditions and plenty to cover to rest among while they undergo molting. They can easily be fed a diet of fish food, shellfish, moss, and algae. Due to their bright orange coloring and spines, they are quite interesting to look at and serve as a great addition to any aquarium.

Did you know...

Spider crabs have been estimated to walk the sea from as long as 100 million years ago, with the oldest species of spider crab being the Cretamaja granulata species, to which the Maja squinado crab species is loosely related. Another common spider crab species is the portly spider crab (Libinia emarginata), found in the Americas.

The spider crab is a unique type of crab, which can mate even in its hard carapace form. Some other interesting crab species include the red rock crab, the green crab, and the horseshoe crab.

These coast crabs are quite genetically diverse, and the populations residing in the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean have so many differences that they are regarded as two separate species by some. The Atlantic population has been termed as the Maja brachydactyla, while the Mediterranean Sea population remains as Maja squinado, which is the blanket term still commonly used for all European spider crabs.

These crabs are migratory and are often seen scuttling across the sea bed in large groups beginning in August. They are known to cover around 100 miles (160 km) in a span of eight months.

Can you eat European spider crabs?

Yes, Maja squinado crab meat is regarded to be quite tasty and juicy and these crabs are bred in fisheries in large amounts. They are a popular seafood item in and around Europe. Around 5000 tons (4536 met ton) of these crabs are caught and processed each year for human consumption. However, there are certain rules and regulations that prevent the catching of egg-bearing females in order to keep the population stable and prevent the overfishing of this species in the Mediterranean and Atlantic. Overfishing can cause endangerment. Spider crabs can cost anywhere from $100-$500.

How did the spider crab get its name?

With the presence of their long, jointed legs, the Maja squinado crab species closely resembles spiders. Due to this, they have been named spider crabs. The European spider crab is mostly found in waters around the coast of Europe, which is why they have this name.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more great animals, check out our horseshoe crab facts and red rock crab facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable spider crab coloring pages.

Second image by Govern de les Illes Balears

Written By
Tanya Parkhi

Tanya always had a knack for writing which encouraged her to be a part of several editorials and publications across print and digital media. During her school life, she was a prominent member of the editorial team at the school newspaper. While studying economics at Fergusson College, Pune, India, she got more opportunities to learn details of content creation. She wrote various blogs, articles, and essays that garnered appreciation from readers. Continuing her passion for writing, she accepted the role of a content creator, where she wrote articles on an array of topics. Tanya’s write-ups reflect her love for traveling, learning about new cultures, and experiencing local traditions.

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