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Mud Crab (Scylla serrata) Photographs and Information

Mud Crab is also known as Mangrove Crab, Muddy and Black Crab.

Mud crabs are large crabs with a smooth, broad carapace.  They have 9 even sized teeth on each side of their eyes.  Their two hind legs are flattened for swimming.  In the most common form, the colour varies from very dark brown to mottled green.  The other, generally smaller form has a deeper body and is reddish brown.

There are four species of mud crab in the world - Scylla serrata, Scylla tranquebarica, Scylla paramamosain and Scylla olivacea

Australian Mud Crab species are Scylla serrata (Green Mud Crab) and Scylla olivacea (Orange or Brown Mud Crab)

In Australia, mud crabs inhabit tropical to warm temperate waters from Exmouth in Western Australia up and around to the Bega River in southern New South Wales.

Mudcrabs inhabit sheltered estuaries, the tidal reaches of some rivers, mud flats and mangrove forests, although females carrying eggs are present in deeper waters up to 50 kilometres offshore.  These crabs favour a soft, muddy bottom, often below low tide level.

Mating occurs when the female mud crab is in the soft-bodied condition following moulting.  Female mud crabs in Australian populations migrate offshore to spawn and are rarely seen.  2 to 8 million eggs are produced in each spawning.   Female crabs incubate the eggs for 2 to 4 weeks under their abdominal flap.  For more information on the cycle of the Mudcrab click here PDF format

Mud crabs mate in warmer months. Mature females release a ‘pheromone’ (chemical attractant) into the water to attract males. Once paired, the successful male climbs on top of the female, clasps her with his hind legs, picks her up and carries her around for up to four days. He releases her when she begins to moult. After she has shed her shell, he turns her upside down to mate.

Mud crabs live for up to 3 years.

small photo of a mud crabJuvenile mud crabs eat planktonic animals, benthic molluscs and crustaceans of various types. Adults feed at night on a variety of bivalve and gastropod molluscs including mussels, pipies, small crabs and polychaete worms.  Mud crabs are also attracted to dead fish and meat in traps.  The mud crab's large claws are used for crushing and cutting their prey.  If they lose a claw, they may grow another one in successive moults.

How a Crab Sheds its shell or "Moults":
A crab’s growth isn’t continuous, but results from a series of moults that happen when it reaches the size of its current shell. Moulting is triggered by hormones. A new ‘cuticle’ (hard protective layer) is secreted under the old shell. The crab rapidly absorbs water, splitting its shell along suture lines, then backs out of the old shell. Substances stored within the crab’s body are rapidly redeposited to harden the new cuticle into a larger shell. The fluid in the body is replaced with meat during a period when the crab feeds voraciously.

Don't take home a crab that has recently moulted their shell if you want a lot of meat! For a Meaty crab choose one that has a shell with maybe some scaring or algae growth, blunt teeth on their claws and if you gently press the shell, there should be no movement.

Natural predators of mud crabs include sharks, crocodiles, turtles, rays, large fish such as rock cods and barramundi.

Mud Crabs are caught in wire mesh pots baited with meat or fish.   Mudcrabs are also a bycatch of the coastal set gillnet fishery for barramundi and threadfin salmon.

Live mudcrabs are sold on the local markets and also exported.

Minimum size applies in all states.  Females in berry (with eggs) are protected in New South Wales and all females are protected in Queensland and Western Australia.

Did you know?
A female crab is called a Jenny.
A male crab is called a Buck.

Did you know?
Crabs have blue blood, Worms have green blood, and Starfish have clear blood.

crab, mud, mangrove crab, muddy, black crab, Scylla serrata

map showing where mud crabs are found in australia

mud crab photo, whole mud crab, mangrove crab


Scientific Name Scylla serrata
Location WA, NT, QLD, NSW
Season All year round
Size To 3.5 kg
Australian Species Code 28 911902
Taste, Texture Delicate sweet taste.  Medium to firm texture.


Nutritional Information
For every 100 grams raw product
for Crab meat.

Kilojoules na
Cholesterol 58 mg
Sodium na
Total fat (oil) 0.9 g
Saturated fat 22% of total fat
Monounsaturated fat 20% of total fat
Polyunsaturated fat 57% of total fat
Omega-3, EPA 137 mg
Omega-3, DHA 90 mg
Omega-6, AA 86 mg

mud crab showing eyes claws mouth, live mud crab

Catching and Fishing for Mud Crabs:

Mud crabs are typically caught using dillies, or pots, with the latter being the most popular device. What bait to use to catch Mud Crabs - The correct bait is essential if you want to get good results. Where to place your Crab Pots or Traps - Mud crabs are abundant in a wide range of aquatic habitats, ranging from the upper reaches of estuaries to coastal mud flats and trenches. Most estuarine areas fringed with mangroves and/or mud flats will contain mud crabs.

Cooking Mud Crab:

Mud Crabs are also swimmer Crabs, are found mainly on the muddy bottoms of shallow coastal mangroves. They have large front legs and developed claws and generally weigh 500g-1kg. They’re mostly sold live (as they can live out of water for days) but are also available cooked. It is best not to buy dead uncooked Mud Crabs as it’s difficult to determine their quality. They yield about 25% meat, largely from the front claws, and are high priced with sweet flesh that has a slightly stronger flavour and firmer texture than that of other Crabs.


Commercial Fishing for Mud Crabs:

Mud crabs are harvested by professional fishers throughout the Queensland coast from Southport to Karumba, and generate almost $10 million in wharf value to the States economy. Mud crabs are sold mostly as an icon species to the tourist and restaurant trade. Many commercial crab fishers work from remote, rudimentary land-based camps, although some access remote waters using mother-ships or permanently-moored pontoons. Crabbers may travel more than 100 km to set their pots and then stay in the same area for a number of days before returning to their base to unload the catch.


Photos of Mud Crabs:

Identifying male and female crab illustration, cooked mud crab, live green mud crab tied up, photo showing face of a mud crab, cooked mud crabs prepared for entree


See Also:   Crab,   3 Spot Crab,    Blue Swimming Crab,    Brown Crab,   Common Swimming Crab,   Dungeness Crab,   Jonah Crab,   King Crab,   Sea Crab,   Snow Crab,   Softshell Crab,   Spanner Crab,   Spider Crab,   Stone Crab,   Velvet Crab,   Canned Crabmeat




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