Clibanarius erythropus

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Clibanarius erythropus
Clibanarius erythropus 1.jpg
Scientific classification
C. erythropus
Binomial name
Clibanarius erythropus
(Latreille, 1818) [1]
Synonyms [1]
  • Clibanarius misanthropus (Risso, 1827)
  • Pagurus erythropus Latreille, 1818
  • Pagurus hirsutus Costa, 1829–1838
  • Pagurus misanthropus Risso, 1827
  • Pagurus nigritarsis Lucas, 1846

Clibanarius erythropus is a species of hermit crab that lives in rockpools and sublittoral waters.[2] It is found in the Mediterranean Sea, Black Sea and eastern Atlantic Ocean from the Azores to Brittany, the Channel Islands and as far north as the south Cornwall coast.[2][3][4] Individuals may grow up to a carapace length of 15 millimetres (0.6 in).[2]

Clibanarius erythropus, the Black Sea


A variety of different gastropod shells are used by C. erythropus, the most frequent being Littorina striata, Mitra, Nassarius incrassatus and Stramonita haemastoma, which collectively account for 85% of all the individuals studied in the Azores;[5] in the Mediterranean, shells of Cerithium, Alvania montagui and Pisania maculosa are most used by C. erythropus.[6]

Like other hermit crabs, C. erythropus feeds on "organic debris, decayed and fresh macro-algae with associated fauna and epiphytic algal flora, small invertebrates, and macroscopic pieces of dead and live animal tissues".[3] It has been shown that C. erythropus individuals select substrates where they can cover large distances, and that globose shells allow them greater mobility than elongate ones.[3]

In popular culture[edit]

In 2016 the BBC Springwatch programme highlighted C. erythropus and ran a competition to provide a vernacular name. The winning name was St Piran's crab, a process supported by National Trust West Cornwall and the Cornwall Wildlife Trust. Saint Piran is generally regarded as the patron saint of Cornwall, and was a hermit who survived being thrown into the sea.[7][4]


  1. ^ a b Michael Türkay (2009). Patsy McLaughlin (ed.). "Clibanarius erythropus (Latreille, 1818)". World Paguroidea database. World Register of Marine Species. Retrieved 8 June 2010.
  2. ^ a b c E. Wilson (2005). "A hermit crab — Clibanarius erythropus". Marine Life Information Network. Archived from the original on 2007-10-28. Retrieved 2009-01-31.
  3. ^ a b c Chiara Benvenuto, Gianfranco Sartoni and Francesca Gherardi (2003). "Foraging behaviour of the hermit crab Clibanarius erythropus in a Mediterranean shore". Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. 83 (3): 457–461. doi:10.1017/S0025315403007331h.
  4. ^ a b "Rare hermit crab rediscovered". Cornwall Wildlife Trust. Archived from the original on 22 March 2016. Retrieved 16 March 2016.
  5. ^ Andrea Z. Botelho & Ana C. Costa (2000). "Shell occupancy of the intertidal hermit crab Clibanarius erythropus (Decapoda, Diogenidae) on São Miguel (Azores)". Hydrobiologia. 440 (1/3): 111–117. doi:10.1023/A:1004190220509. hdl:10400.3/988.
  6. ^ Chiara Benvenuto & Francesca Gherardi (2001). "Population structure and shell use in the hermit crab, Clibanarius erythropus: a comparison between Mediterranean and Atlantic shores". Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. 81 (1): 77–84. doi:10.1017/S0025315401003423.
  7. ^ the Incredible Life of a Rockpool