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Invasive Crabs & Crayfish

Chinese Mitten Crab

  • Scientific Name

    Eriocheir sinensisVisit ITIS for full scientific classification. 

  • Description


    • Claws are hairy ("mittens").
    • Color varies from brown-orange to brown-green.
    • Carapace can get up to 3 inches long. Legs get up to twice the length of the carapace. 
  • Habitat
    • Lives in freshwater, and breeds in saltwater.
    • Found in estuarine environments, lakes, riparian zones, rivers, streams, and canals.
  • Invasion Pathways and Distribution
    • Native to East Asia.
    • Found throughout northern and central California.
    • Believed to have come to the U.S. via ballast water. 
    • Spreads via dispersal in connected waterways and through migration over land and in water.
    • Visit USGS for a current U.S. distribution map.
  • Life History
    • Individuals are either male or female.
    • Females carry eggs that hatch into larvae and live in the water column prior to settling out in rivers, creeks, etc.
    • Lives in freshwater and breeds in saltwater.
  • Impacts
    • Burrows and erodes banks in tidal areas.
    • Damages infrastructure, and interferes with fishing gear and water facility operations.
    • Opportunistic and sometimes destructive feeders.
  • References and Useful Links

    For references by category and links to other useful AIS sites see our Learn More page.