Calico Crab

Marco Island’s Colorful Calico Crab

Calico Crab Shell

One of my favorite “shells” to find on Marco Island is the Calico Crab shield. Calico Crabs are also known as “Leopard Crabs” because of their colorful carapaces. They can be found along most of the Gulf of Mexico, including Marco Island’s Crescent Beach and Tigertail Beach.

The Calico Crab lives in shallow water along beaches and offshore. It can reach up to a 3 inch wide white carapace with large red spots and darker outlines.

Calico Crab on Marco Island's Crescent Beach
Live Calico Crab on Marco Island’s Crescent Beach

Food Sources and Habits

Calico Crabs are walking crabs, with their back legs designed for moving rather than being flattened for swimming and digging. This crab buries itself completely in sand until food is close by. Then they become very aggressive, moving quickly out of the sand to capture their prey. The normal food sources are decomposing organic matter from plants and animals (minnows, worms, clams, and other small invertebrates). This small crab’s predators are rays, fish, and sea turtles.

Carapace Shedding Process

Thanks to Treasure Seeker’s Shell Tours for the following information on the process of the Calico Crab shedding the carapace:

Calico Crab Shield …when this guy starts the process to shed his shield it takes him up to two weeks to shell, if it is long it can take up to two months. Crabs are crustaceans, and we often see them on our beaches in the sand and they love mud . One of the important characteristics of the crab is that they can shell, they will not only shed their shells once in a Lifetime, but will shed their shells a dozen times. It is very likely that we can observe their shelling phenomenon . If the interval is relatively short then the crab can only shell once in about 2 months .

Visit our website for more information on Sea Mar Condo, Marco Island, FL. Our website offers lots of information on things to see and do on Marco Island, as well as information on sea life and wild life in the area. We want to make your vacation on Marco Island a trip of a lifetime!

2 thoughts on “Calico Crab

  • 02/19/2024 at 5:37 AM

    Love your article~ i love shelling however this is the first time I have found these fragile “shields”. I have some in a “cheetah” type pattern & some that are more lines with similar colors. Just moved to the Bonita Springs area for winter. We are from St Louis.

  • 02/19/2024 at 2:29 PM

    Thank you for your comment – we are so glad you liked the article on the Calico Crab on our Sea Mar Condo website. We hope you will look at our other articles located in the “Marco Island Guide” section of our website There is lots of great information on shelling and things to see and do around the SW Gulf area, especially around Marco Island, Naples, and the Everglades. We love it there! We wish you well on your move to Bonita Springs for the winter – that sounds wonderful! My husband is from the St. Louis area (Highland, IL) and we get up that way about every year. Nice to hear from you! Teresa and Larry Luber


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