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Fiddler crabs, the small and semi-terrestrial crabs seen on temperate and tropical beaches, belong to the genus Uca of the Ocypodidae family, which also includes Ghost Crabs.
The lone, long claw of the male differentiates fiddler crabs from other species. It functions primarily as a mating tool. Females develop two standard sized claws.
They live year-round in their environment, eating local vegetation and algae, building burrows for egg laying, night time refuge and when necessary, winter hibernation. In the case of mating and egg laying, eventually the eggs are released into the water for the young to hatch.
Close to one hundred different Fiddler Crab species and subspecies have been documented in coastal areas around the world.
In the United States, Fiddler Crabs are found along the Atlantic Coast and the Gulf of Mexico. Species diversity expands in the southern most ranges.
© 2009 Patricia A. Michaels