Hold On! Mitten Crabs Are Here

You may never have heard of mitten crabs.

After reading this, you may be sorry you now have.

The small (3 inch) brownish crustacean with hairy, white-tipped claws — it looks like a mitten – is not native to Connecticut. But it’s here.

According to Dick Harris — a marine scientist who conducts environmental assessments for Copps Island Oysters — mitten crabs burrow into mud. Those habits threaten stream bank stability, promoting erosion and habitat loss. They can even undermine structures built nearby.

Last year, mitten crabs were found in the Housatonic and Mianus Rivers. On Wednesday, one was caught right here, in Muddy Deadman Brook.

Mitten crab

They are the only crabs in North America that spend time in fresh water. Salt water predators include sea bass and black crabs. In fresh water, their only danger comes from raccoons.

Harris wants Westporters to know how dangerous this invasive species can be. If you catch one, freeze it or preserve it in alcohol. Note the date and location of the capture, and call Harris: 203-246-6696.


5 responses to “Hold On! Mitten Crabs Are Here

  1. Sent to Bun Lai of Miya’s Sushi in New Haven- he might know if they are edible! He has been serving invasive species for years in their successful restaurant. http://www.miyassushi.com/story.php

  2. chip stephens

    I may be wrong but I believe these have been around here for years, not as prolific as horseshoe or blue crabs but I know I have seen them flying towards a sudden death to the pavement of Compo from the clutches of seagulls

  3. ….’not native to Connecticut’ LOL!!!! Join the club!.

  4. Hi all! Just a note that it was our sampling team at Harbor Watch that found the crab mentioned in this article this week and we found it in Deadman’s Brook near Myrtle Ave, not in Muddy Brook. Thanks!

  5. For those who ask if mitten crabs are edible? Answer, yes. Very much so. They are a delicacy in many Chinese regional cooking traditions. Here is just some information to follow up: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0308814607001252

    Here’s a link to a YouTube “how to eat a Chinese “Hairy (Mitten) Crab:

    And here’s another link. Youtube again. Some ads that are, well, dicey, so be prepared to hit the x to remove them. But the education regarding mitten crab preparation is really quite amazing.

    I hope this has been as interesting – and educational – for you as it has been for me.


    Best to all,
    You occasional former-Westporter correspondent.
    Gerry Manning