Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Fiddler Crabs

This is the beast known as the common fiddler crab. And when I say common, I mean commoner than dishwater.

Notice how well he blends into his surroundings? Double click on the image to get a good look at his devilish grin and seething eyes.

These monsters live in our marshy areas, including around the shorelines of creeks, especially one creek in particular: Queens Creek. You rarely see them except at low tide, when they come out by the bazillions to lurk in the mud and make their little clickety clack noises as they gargle and gurgle and blow their tiny salt water bubbles. Personally, I think this irritating, insidious noise is their way of laughing at me. Believe me, they always get the last laugh.

The very special breed of fiddler crab which lives on my creek, in particular around my dock, is not satisfied with its natural habitat. No, they send out invitations to all their little fiddler crab friends, leave their moist, muddy environment and throw parties on my lawn.

One of their party games is Truth or Dare. The poor ones who opt for the dare are sent marching up out of their natural habitat directly inside my garage where they are instructed to lie in wait with the hopes of doing me in. When I stumble in the door looking for a tool among the many piles of junk where a tool might be tossed but never will be found, they attack and charge out from the darkness, their one hideous, out-of-proportion claw raised up as if flipping me the bird.

The other day when I was driving down the public landing near Haven Beach, the road was covered with these monsters, except they weren't as big as the one pictured here. They were either a different type of fiddler crab or they were immature ones. Or maybe they were runts. No matter, they assaulted me plain and simple.

Enough of my jabbering about these sinister creatures.

Here is what has to say about them (some of this is paraphrased) :

"Fiddler crabs are small, extraterrestrial semi-terrestrial crabs that vary in color from tan to brown. In males, one claw (can be right or left) is enlarged. Females' claws are equally small. The fiddler crab's carapace, or shell, is squared with rounded rear edges. Fiddler crabs have four pairs of walking legs.....

....The red-jointed fiddler crab, Uca minax, is the most common and widespread fiddler crab in the Bay. Its carapace* grows to 1.5 inches wide and has a groove behind each eye. Its major claw grows to 2 inches long and has bright red joints. The marsh fiddler crab, Uca pugnax**, is the smallest fiddler crab in the Bay. Its carapace* grows to less than an inch wide and its major claw grows to 1.5 feet inches long.....

...Fiddler crabs are found in marshes and on sand flats throughout the Bay and its tributaries. They create tiny, sometimes elaborate burrows for mating, sleeping, refuge from predators and “hibernating” during winter.

Red-jointed fiddlers live in muddy areas in fresh to brackish water marshes. They dig burrows above the high-tide line, creating a mud ledge to shade the burrow's entrance.

Fiddlers are very active during the day, foraging for food and digging burrows. They return to their burrows at night and during high tide, plugging the entrance with mud or sand.****"

Chesapeake Bay Woman's Completely Unscientific and Unnecessary Corrections and Clarifications:

* Carapace is a typo. What they meant to say here instead was "ugly, ugly face."
** Uca pugnax is another typo - It should be "Ucreature repugnant."
***Yet another typo! Uca pugilator should read "Yousaterminator."
****Yes, they use mud, sand or the bodies of humans they have traumatized.


Angela said...

I had no idea you were blessed with such pleasant creatures in your area, thanks for telling me. Your information gave me a sigh of relief (we don`t have them here). So the vicious ones with their one big ugly claw are the males...? They are probably just interested in your garage tools.
As usual, you gave me a good chuckle. I hope you always wear good, tight boots!

Pueblo girl said...

Having no experience of fiddler crabs, I never really understood why you didn't like them. Do they pinch? But more importantly, can you eat them?

Meg @ Soup Is Not A Finger Food said...

And you've invited people to camp in your yard in July???

Lynne M. said...

I'm proud of you for getting close enough to get a picture. They only freak me out if I'm on the beach when it's near dark and they are everywhere, because then they can look very much like BIG spiders. This causes the tears to flow, then hyperventilation, then eventually blackness....

Annie said...

Ah, thank you...a fiddler crab at last!

As someone said, can you eat them? If you were brave enough to catch them? Maybe you are vegetarian!

Anonymous said...

Ya know....I've got a family of raccoons that are bored with their diet of moldy pizza crusts and near empty soup cans.

I believe I heard them discussing just the other night at the garbage can about the poor selection of food being offered (or was that the gin talking?).

Maybe CBW would be willing to send a supply of crabs for this raccoon family to dine on?

Better yet; How about I send you a family of raccoons to dine on your crabs? Surly that would help put a dent in the crab population?


Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Angela-Yes, the big-clawed ones are male. They really aren't vicious at all they just show up in places I least expect them, such as my garage, my yard and in the middle of the road. They're supposed to stay put down by the creek in the mud.

Pueblo Girl-They terrorize me by invading my space (see above), but otherwise are harmless. It's just alarming to find one in your living space or scurrying across the yard when you're trying to cut grass. Can you eat them? I suppose if I were on a desert island and there was nothing else besides fiddler crabs I'd learn to eat them, shell and all, just pop 'em in my mouth like tic tacs and swallow as that one giant claw pulls my teeth out, but no we don't eat them. By the time you got the shell off, all there'd be left would be eyeballs and internal organs. Not much meat on these things. They're unusual creatures, to say the least. Of course all my complaining about something so tiny is mostly hot air (except for the part about them invading my space).

Meg- Yes. However, the place I'm directing folks to camp will be on higher ground where the f. crabs don't usually throw their parties.

Lynne M.-Thank you for making me laugh. A lot. The visual is hilarious.

Annie-Yes, I took this pic and put it up just for you since you asked what they looked like. Although I don't eat a whole lot of meat, I don't eat a lot of shells either, and that's about all you'd get out of these things. They're teeny tiny, which to me makes it all the more hilarious that they have the power to frighten me.

SMBS-Do not send racoons! Between them and the opossums, the trash is scattered from here to Wisconsin, especially since we haul our trash off to the dump ourselves. When I say "we" I mean "my father or my neighbor" which means it is lying stacked up outdoors for a while. We may have the only obese racoons on the planet.

lakeviewer said...

Can you eat them? Or are they just food for birds and errant mammals?

BOSSY said...

Bossy is fine with all sorts of crabs (especially dunked in clarified butter) until nightfall... and add bare feet to the equation and all bets are off.

Grandma J said...

That creature looks menacing! I don't know how I missed this post until now, but it could have ruined my day. I couldn't find the eyes or face at all. I see the claw, and I guess that would be the important part.

You don't eat them do you?

Birney said...

they are good for bait just pop a live one on your hook and sheephead love them. we use them here in south carolina. also i know of people who eat them fried whole like pop corn. i dont but its possible.