How Long Do Crabs Live In The Wild?

Crabs are overexploited in the fishing industry to be sold for meat. You may have wondered how long they would live if they weren’t killed at such a young age. So, how long do crabs live in the wild?

Crabs can live up to 3 to 5 years in the wild. Some crab species can live for 30 years. The longest-living species of the crab is the spider crab, which is noted to live up to 100 years. Many life factors affect how long crabs live. These factors include plastic pollution, predators, and human activity.

It turns out that although a crab’s life is short, it can be tough. This article will tell you all you need to know about the lifespan of a crab.

Our guide will explain all the details and information you need to know. We will go over specific factors and related questions at the end.

Let’s dive in.

How long do crabs live in the wild

How long do crabs live in the wild?

A crab’s lifespan can depend on the species of the crab. Smaller crabs can live for around five years, and larger crabs can live up to 30 years.

A biologist can determine the age of a crab by examining hard structures within the crab. These structures are found in the crab’s stomach and show banding patterns within the structures.

This method is similar to examining a tree’s growth rings. This research has discovered these bindings on red and snow crabs.

Female crabs can lay a lot of eggs in each egg-laying season. A red crab can lay around 100,000 eggs, whilst a horseshoe crab can lay up to 88,000.

A female blue crab can lay around 8 million eggs in an egg-laying season. Although this is a lot, only 0.0001% of eggs will survive and become adults.

There are many reasons why they die so young, and only one out of a million survive adulthood. These are some factors why.

Why do crabs die?

1. Predation

A reason why many crabs die is because of natural predation. Although baby crabs have spikes to protect them, they are still prey to many other creatures.

When these juveniles are molting and shedding their skin, they are more vulnerable. They don’t have a hard shell to protect them from dangers like predators.

Common crab predators include sharks, cod, dogfish, bass, and halibut. These large fish often crab on the small and slow crabs as they are an easy meal.

Birds like herons and egrets also prey on young crabs from the shoreline. They also enjoy some crab larvae offshore.

Sea turtles also eat crabs, specifically the loggerhead, Kemp’s ridley, and olive ridley. Their jaws have adapted to eat hard-shelled crustaceans like crabs and can crush their shell with their jaws.

Snakes also prey on and hunt crabs and can even fit larger species into their mouths. They prefer to eat soft-shelled crabs and will swallow them whole.

Wild animals like raccoons will also prey on smaller crabs that are on the shore. They can open the shell of a crab and dig out the meat.

Other crabs can eat crabs as well. Larger crabs often eat smaller crabs, and sometimes a female crab will eat her offspring if there’s no available food.

2. Overexploitation

Alongside a crab’s natural predators, humans also like to eat crabs. But in many areas, crabs have been overfished and exploited by many fisheries.

The oldest crab species, the horseshoe crab, is listed as vulnerable. This is because of overharvesting, habitat loss, and being used in biomedical testing.

Mud crabs in Madagascar are also in danger of becoming threatened because of overexploitation. They have also lost 136 thousand acres of habitat as of 2020.

Another overexploited species include blue crabs. Between the late 1990s and early 2000s, there were reports of overexploitation in Maryland.

The demand for live crabs has grown larger in the past years. This market has become worldwide, with countries like France becoming large importers of live crabs.

A crab’s shell can be used as an ingredient in many things. This includes compost and bug repellent, as their shells contain chitin, a material that repels bugs.

The equipment used can also be dangerous and contribute to ocean pollution. Heavy machinery is used and can be a hazardous job to complete.

Left behind equipment called ghost gear also affects other populations. For example, sea turtles can get caught in traps which causes them to become endangered.

3. Pollution

Plastic pollution is also a significant problem for some crab species. An example of a crab species affected by plastic pollution is hermit crabs.

Research has shown that dumped plastics can release chemicals into the ocean. These chemicals cause hyperactivity and excite hermit crabs, which can drive them to extinction.

The additive is called oleamide and has been confusing hermit crab populations. The chemical has messed up their regular breeding cycles and affects their reproduction rates.

Half a million hermit crabs have been killed after being caught in plastic debris. This has been happening on the Cocos and Henderson islands which are piled with plastic litter.

Another threat to hermit crabs includes them being unable to select suitable homes. Hermit crabs exposed to polyethylene have had their behavior disrupted by the plastic.

Researchers have shown that these hermit crabs will not take better shells when offered. This can be dangerous for many populations, as their shells protect them against many factors.

Reports also reveal that hermit crabs have been caught in discarded tires. They often crawl into tires looking for food or shelter, only to be trapped inside the hole of the tire.

How long do different crabs live?

A crab’s lifespan can vary and depend on the crab’s species. Larger crabs tend to live longer than smaller crabs due to less predation and better hunting capabilities.

This table shows how long different species live:

CrabAverage lifespan
BlueFour years
GhostThree years
GreenFive years
Hermit15 years
Horseshoe20 years
King30 years
Snow20 years

How long do crabs live in captivity?

Crabs aren’t unusual pets and are pretty common pets for ocean lovers. But when crabs are kept in captivity, they don’t live as long as they would in the wild.

Most crab species will survive 3 to 4 years in captivity. But the most they can live for is 20 years, and the least is one month.

Hermit crabs are hard to take care of, as they are fragile and complex creatures. It is difficult to care for a crab, and many pet stores cannot provide for them.

Many crab owners are experienced and bring home sick and neglected crabs. Recreating their habitats can be challenging as they require moisture to prevent suffocating.

A crab will thrive in a safe, warm home with plenty of food. Even without these requirements, a crab can still live a couple of years.

This is why people think crabs are easy pets to own; however, this is not the case. If you think of owning a pet crab, you should still provide suitable habitat and cater to its needs.

It would be best if you always research before buying a pet and look into responsible purchasing options. Regardless of what you may think, crabs are much harder to care for than you might think.

In conclusion

The average crab can live for 3 to 5 years in the wild, but many baby crabs die young.

Human activity has also affected crab populations. Overexploitation and pollution are examples of human activity.

Different crab species have different lifespans. Larger crabs can live for up to 30 years, and smaller crabs for up to 5 years.

Crabs are often kept as pets but need much care and consideration. It is difficult to own a crab, so always do your research and take care of it properly.

Leave a Comment