Horseshoe Crabs

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

horseshoe crabs creatures of great antiquity, in the family Xiphosuridae. They bear a large and rounded outer shell, and have a formidable spike projecting behind, as means of protection. An alternative name for them is ‘beetle crabs’. They are caught—in regions where people bother to catch them—in special nets or bamboo traps set in shallow inshore waters.

These crabs have small black eyes, but the males are reputedly blind and depend on the females, to whom they cling while moving around. Dozens of males may be ‘in tow’ from a single female. The Thai name for this crab means ‘pimp’ and was presumably bestowed because of this habit.