Eriocheir sinensis
(Chinese mitten crab)
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Eriocheir sinensis

Common name: Chinese mitten crab

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo


Adult Characteristics:
                + hairy claws with white tips, normally equal in size
                + notch between the eyes
                + four lateral carapace spines (fourth spine is small)
                + smooth, round carapace or body shape
                + maximum carapace width (distance across the back) is approximately 80 mm (3 inches)
                + legs over twice as long as the carapace width
                + light brown color

Juvenile Mitten Crab Characteristics:
                + notch between the eyes
                + claws may not be hairy if carapace width is less than 20 mm (¾ inch)
                + claws are hairy by 25 mm (1 inch) carapace width
                + four lateral carapace spines (fourth spine is small)
                + smooth, round carapace or body shape
                + legs over twice as long as the carapace width
                + light brown color

Size: 3 inch carapace width

Native Range: Pacific coast of China and Korea.

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Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences:

California: Established in numerous locations in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta since 1991.  However, adults are rarely found now in 2012.

Connecticut: A specimen was found in the Mianus River in Greenwich in June 2012 (N. Balcom, pers.comm.).

Delaware: Two specimens were collected from the Delaware River at Liston Point in 2007. A third crab was caught in Delaware Bay off the mouth of the Simons River, also in 2007. Eight crabs were collected in 2010.

Louisiana: One was caught in the Mississippi River Delta in 1987.

Maryland: A single male was collected in 2005 from the Patapsco River; another male was collected in 2006 from the mouth of the Patapsco River. In 2007 two more were collected by watermen at Chesapeake Beach and at the southern point of Kent Island.

New Jersey: In the Hudson River (shared border with New York in the northern third of the state) and along the coast south to the mouth of the Toms River in 2008.

New York: The first specimen was collected from the Hudson River near Nyack in 2007. Since then numerous mitten crabs have been collected in the river from near Albany to the mouth at New York Harbor (M. DuFour, pers. comm.)

Ontario: The first mitten crab in Ontario was collected from the Detroit River in 1965.  In 1973, two mitten crab were collected from Lake Erie, offshore from Port Stanley and Erieau, Ontario. It was not until 2005 when another was found at Port Alma in Lake Erie. Te first crab collected from Lake Superior occurred in Thunder Bay Harbour, Ontario, at Ontario Power generating station on Mission Island in 2005 and another in 2006.

Ohio: The first specimen collected in Ohio Was in Lake Erie at the port of Lorain in 1973. Since then, at least two more have been collected in the same vicinity in 1996 and 2007.

Quebec: Collected from St. Lawrence River on the south side of Lake St. Pierre (a fluvial lake of the river) in Notre-Dame-de-Pierreville, Quebec in 2004 and St. Lawrence River at St-Romuald (south shore) in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada in 2005.

Washington: Columbia River estuary at the Port of Ilwaco in 1997.

Means of Introduction: Ballast water on the West Coast and in the Great Lakes. Its presence in Maryland may either be due to releasing crabs purchased as food (only males are sold), or they may be been introduced by ballast water.

Status: They are established on the California coast, but adults are now rare in San Francisco Bay as of 2012. There is no evidence to show they are establised in the Great Lakes. However, with all the recent collections from the mid-Atlantic Region of the east coast of the United States, reproduction may be occurring. Until 2007, all mitten crabs collected were males. Since then several female specimens were collected, each containing eggs and sperm stored in a special organ. This is evidence of mating but not necessarily of an established population.

Other Resources:
Eriocheir sinensis (Chinese mitten crab) (Gulf of Mexico Program)

USGS Invasive Species Case File

Eriocheir sinensis [Chinese mitten crab] (ANS Clearinghouse Bibliography)

Eriocheir sinensis (Global Invasive Species Database)

Chinese Mitten Crab: Written Documents (California Central Valley Bay-Delta Branch)

Eriocheir sinensis National Exotic Marine and Estuarine Species Information System (Smithsonian Environmental Research Center)

Author: Benson, A. J., and P. L. Fuller

Revision Date: 8/7/2012

Citation Information:
Benson, A. J., and P. L. Fuller, 2018, Eriocheir sinensis: U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL,, Revision Date: 8/7/2012, Access Date: 3/20/2018

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.

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Page Last Modified: Wednesday, March 14, 2018


The data represented on this site vary in accuracy, scale, completeness, extent of coverage and origin. It is the user's responsibility to use these data consistent with their intended purpose and within stated limitations. We highly recommend reviewing metadata files prior to interpreting these data.

Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2018]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [3/20/2018].

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