Family Limulidae

  • Found in Southern and Eastern Asia, as well as the Atlantic coast and Gulf of Mexico in North America. 
  • They vary in length between 13-20 inches long with shells 7-12 inches wide. Size depends on gender, as females are much larger than males. 
  • Foragers as well as predators, they will feed on carrion scraps and algae, but will also hunt small clams, crustaceans, and worms. 
  • The crabs come ashore to breed in large clusters, after which females can lay up to 120,000 eggs in batches of a few thousand at a time. 
  • While they look ferocious, Horseshoe crabs are completely harmless. Their tails are NOT stingers, but instead used for righting themselves when flipped over. Their only means of defense are their hard outer shells. 
  • Often classified as Near Threatened due to water pollution, coastal destruction, and over-harvesting for their blood and for use as bait. 
  • Extra fact: Horseshoe crabs are often captured and have their blood collected due to its unique property of clotting in the prescence of certain toxins. It is used in the process of testing many medical products.