information on the biology of species and the ecology of habitats found around the coasts and seas of the British Isles

Hermit crab (Pagurus bernhardus)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.
Only coastal and marine records shown



A large hermit crab with a carapace length that reaches 35mm. It is reddish in colour and will occupy any suitable shell such as Buccinum undatum. Both pincers are covered with thick, pointed protrusions, the massive right pincer has two rows of large protrusions and is devoid of bristles.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

All British and Irish coasts.

Global distribution



Found on rocky and sandy substrata from mean tide level to 140 m.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Carapace with sharply pointed rostrum.
  • Chelipeds covered with uniformly distributed granules or small teeth.
  • Propodus of right chela with two rows of larger granulations, starting at the base and converging towards the middle.

Additional information

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Further information sources

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  1. Bergmann, M. & Moore, P.G., 2001. Survival of decapod crustaceans discarded in the Nephrops fishery of the Clyde Sea area, Scotland. ICES Journal of Marine Science, 58, 163-171.

  2. Bergmann, M., Beare, D.J. & Moore, P.G., 2001. Damage sustained by epibentic invertebrates discarded in the Nephrops fishery of the Clyde Sea area, Scotland. Journal of Sea Research, 45, 105-118.

  3. Bookhout, C.G., 1964. Salinity effects on the larval development of Pagurus bernhardus (L.) reared in the laboratory. Ophelia, 1, 275-294.

  4. Elwood, R.W. & Stewart, A., 1987. Reproduction in the littoral hermit crab Pagurus bernhardus. Irish Naturalists' Journal, 22, 252-255.

  5. Fish, J.D. & Fish, S., 1996. A student's guide to the seashore. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  6. Gerlach, S.A., Ekstrøm, D.K. & Eckardt, P.B., 1976. Filter feeding in the hermit crab Pagurus bernhardus. Oecologia, 24, 257-264.

  7. Hayward, P., Nelson-Smith, T. & Shields, C. 1996. Collins pocket guide. Sea shore of Britain and northern Europe. London: HarperCollins.

  8. Hayward, P.J. & Ryland, J.S. (ed.) 1995b. Handbook of the marine fauna of North-West Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  9. Howson, C.M. & Picton, B.E., 1997. The species directory of the marine fauna and flora of the British Isles and surrounding seas. Belfast: Ulster Museum. [Ulster Museum publication, no. 276.]

  10. Jackson, H.G., 1913. Eupagurus. Liverpool Marine Biology Committee Memoirs, 21, 79pp.

  11. JNCC (Joint Nature Conservation Committee), 1999. Marine Environment Resource Mapping And Information Database (MERMAID): Marine Nature Conservation Review Survey Database. [on-line]

  12. Kaiser, M.J., Ramsay, K. & Hughes, R.N., 1998. Can fisheries influence interspecific competition in sympatric populations of hermit crabs? Journal of Natural History, 32, 521-531.

  13. Lancaster, I., 1988. Pagurus bernhardus (L.) - an introduction to the natural history of hermit crabs. Field Studies, 7, 189-238.

  14. Lancaster, I., 1990. Reproduction and life history strategy of the hermit crab Pagurus bernhardus. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 70, 129-142.

  15. National Biodiversity Network (NBN) Atlas website. Available from:  Accessed 01 April 2017

  16. Picton, B.E. & Costello, M.J., 1998. BioMar biotope viewer: a guide to marine habitats, fauna and flora of Britain and Ireland. [CD-ROM] Environmental Sciences Unit, Trinity College, Dublin.

  17. Ramsay, K., Kaiser, M.J. & Hughes, R.N. 1998. The responses of benthic scavengers to fishing disturbance by towed gears in different habitats. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 224, 73-89.

  18. Ramsay, K., Kaiser, M.J. & Hughes, R.N., 1996. Changes in hermit crab feeding patterns in response to trawling disturbance. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 144, 63-72.


This review can be cited as:

Wilson, E. 2007. Pagurus bernhardus Hermit crab. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. (eds) Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 19-09-2018]. Available from:

Last Updated: 03/07/2007