How many legs does a crab have?

In this brief guide, we’ll address the search query: “How many legs does a crab have?” Also, we’ll explore what crabs are, where they’re distributed, what their role in the environment is, which crabs are edible, what their nutritional content is, and what are the health benefits of eating crab meat. 

How many legs does a crab have? 

As crabs are crustaceans, this means that they have 10 legs. However, appendages that are strictly used for moving can vary between 6 to 8 (2 to 4 pairs) and the remaining two (pair) corresponds to their pincers. 

For example, king crabs have six walking legs (three pairs), one pair of pincers, and a pair of legs that functions as an assisting claw. 

Crustaceans are characterized by having 5 pairs of appendages inserted throughout their body segments, two pairs of antennae, and gills. 

Crabs are crustaceans that belong to the decapod order (crustaceans with ten legs) and make up the Brachyura suborder, which is characterized by having a short abdomen that is often entirely concealed beneath their thorax, which is where their jointed legs are inserted. 

What are crabs? 

Crabs are arthropods. This means that they are invertebrates that have exoskeletons made out of chitin (a carbohydrate), appendages with joints, antennas, segmented bodies, and bilateral symmetry. 

As crustaceans, crabs have 5 pairs of appendages inserted in their thoraxes, two pairs of antennae, a pair of jaws that they use to ingest food, and a single pair of compound eyes. 

As members of Brachyurda, they have very inconspicuous (hidden) abdomens, that are hidden beneath their thorax. 

Where are crabs distributed? 

There are over 4500 species of crabs distributed throughout the world. Some are ocean-dwellers, others can be found in freshwater, and a few select types can be terrestrial. 

Therefore, the exact distribution of crabs will depend on a species’ specific range. 

What is their role in the environment? 

In the environment, crabs are intermediate consumers. This means that they rank in a middle tier on the food chain, as they prey on smaller invertebrates such as shrimp, small species of fish, and other smaller animals. 

However, crabs do have omnivorous tendencies, as they can scavenge food that isn’t necessarily animal protein,

Larger species of crabs, such as the coconut crab, can have a more varied diet. They can eat plants and have been known to feed on larger species and even vertebrates such as birds, rodents, small pets, and of course, other crustaceans. 

A crab’s diet is therefore quite varied, and will also depend on the species and its distribution, as the environment will determine what food is readily available for them to source. 

Which crabs are edible? 

Edible crabs include king crabs, stone crabs, rock crabs, peaky toe crabs, blue crabs, softshell crabs, and Dungeness crabs. 

Of course, supplies will vary, depending on the region where our readers find themselves. Crab meat can be prepared in many ways. It can be used to make finger foods, stews, salads, grilled dishes, stir-fried dishes, and many recipes. 

Meat sourced from some crabs is considered more high-end than others, due to its taste and its rarity. For example, king crabs are considered a luxury, as they’re sourced from the northern pacific ocean and reputed to have such a unique taste, that they’re best enjoyed without any ingredients, save for melted butter. 

Crabs that have been fished are processed and taken to meat packing factories, where their meat is frozen, cleaned, boiled, and then packaged. 

The price of crab meat will often reflect its quality. 

What is the nutritional content of crab meat? 

On average, a 118 grams portion of crab meat will supply: 

  • 98 calories – of which 7.9 are sourced from fat
  • 21 grams of protein
  • 0.9 grams of fat (1% of the RDI) – of which 0.2 grams are saturated fat (1% of the RDI), 0.3 grams are polyunsaturated fat, and 0.1 grams are monounsaturated fat.
  • 0 grams of carbohydrates
  • 114 milligrams of cholesterol (38% of the RDI)
  • 466 milligrams of sodium (19% of the RDI)
  • 306 milligrams of potassium (9% of the RDI)

Additionally, the same portion will provide 0.1% of the RDI of vitamin A,  6.5% of vitamin C, 8.3% of calcium, and 3.3% of iron. 

*Recommended daily intake values are based on a diet of 2000 calories per day. 

What are the health benefits of eating crab meat? 

The health benefits of eating crab meat include it being a source of omega-3 fatty acids, selenium, and vitamin B12. 

Omega-3 fatty acids have important antioxidant activity and can help protect cells against damage caused by free radicals. Damage caused by free radicals is linked to the early onset of diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease, fatty liver disease, circulatory problems, cognitive disorders, and many other diseases. 

Selenium is an essential element, as it is a cofactor (necessary for the function) of various enzymes, many of which are involved in important cellular processes. 

Vitamin B12 is also important, as it helps our bodies form new red blood cells and synthesize DNA for new cells. It is also important in the formation of neurons. 

However, as crab food is sourced from the sea, there is a risk of its meat containing heavy metals. While the danger posed by most types of shellfish is small, we encourage our readers to practice moderation when eating crabfish.

Another reason to consume moderate and occasional portions of crabfish include that it does contain a relatively high amount of sodium.

We encourage our readers to maintain a balanced diet and a healthy, active lifestyle. 


In this brief guide, we’ve addressed the search query: “How many legs does a crab have?” Also, we’ve explored what crabs are, where they’re distributed, what their role in the environment is, which crabs are edible, what their nutritional content is, and what are the health benefits of eating crab meat. 


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