Spotted Hermit Crab, Dardanus megistos

Hermit Crabs, Squat Lobsters & allies

This intriguing and diverse crustacean group, containing hermits and squat lobsters, also includes the delicate porcelain crabs; they may be found in a variety of Queensland marine habitats.


This diverse group of crustaceans is scientifically known as the Anomura. It includes the hermit crabs (superfamily Paguroidea), squat lobsters (superfamilies Galatheoidea and Chirostyloidea) and porcelain crabs (family Porcellanidae), amongst other less familiar anomuran groups. The name Anomura literally means "differently-tailed," and refers to the unusual abdomens these crustaceans possess, which tend to be somewhat reduced in size, and flattened, compared to those of shrimps and lobsters. These abdomens are often carried as a broad flap tucked under the body, although the hermit crabs hide their large fleshy abdomens in discarded snail shells. Anomurans are found in a wide variety of habitats, from the shoreline to the deep sea.

Examples of the group include:

  • Elegant Squat Lobster (Allogalathea elegans)
  • Lamarck's Porcelain Crab (Petrolisthes lamarckii)
  • Mauve-eyed Hermit (Dardanus crassimanus)
  • Spotted Hermit (Dardanus megistos)
  • Pink-clawed Hermit (Dardanus pedunculatus)
  • Yellow-striped Hermit (Clibanarius taeniatus)

Common questions

True crabs have a hard abdomen that is flattened and tucked beneath the body, whereas hermit crabs have a large, fleshy abdomen which is concealed within their shells.

Their common name refers to the delicate nature of their bodies, which can break easily (like porcelain) if not handled carefully.

Although resembling spiny lobsters in shape, squat lobsters are generally flatter and smaller, and are more closely related to hermit crabs and porcelain crabs than to spiny lobsters.

Fact sheets


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