Chinese mitten crab

(Eriocheir sinensis)

Chinese mitten crab

This crab is recognisable by the hair-like covering (mitten) on its distinctive white-tipped claws. The species is native to China and was probably introduced via ballast water.

It was first recorded in Ireland (Waterford estuary) in 2005 and has subsequently been recorded from the lower reaches of the River Suir. The crabs migrate upstream, living in bankside burrows.

They feed on invertebrates and fish. Where present in large numbers mitten crabs can impact on resident freshwater fish populations and cause subsidence of river banks.

Distribution of Chinese mitten crab in Ireland

Data from Biodiversity Maps held by the National Biodiversity Data Centre 2011

Distribution of Chinese mitten crab