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Horseshoe Crab

Horseshoe Crab (Limulidae)Horseshoe Crab (Limulidae)Horseshoe Crab (Limulidae)Horseshoe Crab (Limulidae)Horseshoe Crab (Limulidae)
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Horseshoe Crab Facts

Five groups that classify all living things
A group of animals within the animal kingdom
A group of animals within a pylum
A group of animals within a class
A group of animals within an order
Common Name:
Most widely used name for this species
Horseshoe Crab
Scientific Name:
The name of the animal in science
The place where something is found
What kind of foods the animal eats
Size (L):
How long (L) or tall (H) the animal is
20cm - 60cm (8in - 24in)
The measurement of how heavy the animal is
1kg - 4.5kg (2.2lbs - 9.9lbs)
Number Of Species:
The total number of recorded species
Average Lifespan:
The average time the animal lives for
20 - 40 years
Conservation Status:
The likelihood of the animal becoming extinct
Least Concern
The colour of the animal's coat or markings
Black. Brown, Yellow, Tan, Silver, White
Skin Type:
The protective layer of the animal
Favourite Food:
The preferred food of this animal
The specific area where the animal lives
Muddy bottoms of shallow water
Average Litter Size:
The average number of babies born at once
Main Prey:
The food that the animal gains energy from
Worms, Molluscs, Crustaceans
Other animals that hunt and eat the animal
Sharks, Sea Turtles, Humans
Distinctive Features:
Characteristics unique to this animal
Armoured shell with long, thin tail

Horseshoe Crab Location

Map of Horseshoe Crab Locations

Horseshoe Crab

The horseshoe crab (also known as the king crab), is a hard-shelled invertebrate found on the sea floor in warmer climates. Despite its name, the horseshoe crab is not actually a crab (or crustacean) and is in fact more closely related to arachnids such as spiders and scorpions.

There are four different species of horseshoe crab found inhabiting the warmer shallows off the coasts of India, Japan, Indonesia, the eastern USA, and the Gulf of Mexico.

The horseshoe crab has a hard outer shell, five pairs of legs and a long, thin tail which the horseshoe crab uses for changing direction whilst swimming rather than as a defensive weapon.

The appearance of the horseshoe crab is thought to have changed very little from when it first evolved around 500 million years ago. Horseshoe crabs breathe using book gills, which are thin plates found on the abdomen of the horseshoe crab.

Horseshoe crabs are generally nocturnal animals, coming out of the shadows in the darkness in order to hunt for food. As carnivorous animals, horseshoe crabs only eat meat including sea worms, small molluscs and crustaceans.

Thanks to their armoured casing, horseshoe crabs have few natural predators and are primarily hunted by sharks and sea turtles. Humans also widely hunt the horseshoe crab around the world, along with coastal birds that pick the horseshoe crabs out of the shallows.

Female horseshoe crabs are known to lay between 60,000 to 120,000 eggs at a time. After mating, the female horseshoe crab lays her eggs into a hole in the sand which she then covers up to protect them.

Today, the horseshoe crab is still found widely along the world's warmer coastlines although horseshoe crab populations in certain areas are suffering from high levels of water pollution and over-fishing.

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First Published: 24th May 2010, Last Updated: 8th November 2019

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2. David Burnie, Kingfisher (2011) The Kingfisher Animal Encyclopedia [Accessed at: 01 Jan 2011]
3. Dorling Kindersley (2006) Dorling Kindersley Encyclopedia Of Animals [Accessed at: 24 May 2010]
4. Richard Mackay, University of California Press (2009) The Atlas Of Endangered Species [Accessed at: 24 May 2010]
5. Tom Jackson, Lorenz Books (2007) The World Encyclopedia Of Animals [Accessed at: 24 May 2010]