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

Broad-clawed porcelain crab (Porcellana platycheles)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.



This small hairy crab (up to 15 mm in length) has very large, flattened hairy claws. It is greyish brown in colour on top, with a dirty yellowish white underside. Porcellana platycheles has a small abdomen that is tucked under its carapace. The 5th pair of legs are much reduced and are often concealed giving the appearance of only 3 pairs of walking legs.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Around all British coasts as far north as Shetland.

Global distribution

Found throughout the North Sea basin to Norway, also in the Mediterranean and the Canary Islands.


Porcellana platycheles is found under boulders and large stones on the middle and lower shore especially among mud and gravel. It is thought of as an intertidal species but is sometimes found in the shallow subtidal.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Rounded carapace up to 15mm long and hairy.
  • Large, flattened hairy claws.
  • 2 long antennae.
  • 3 Pairs of walking legs apparent.
  • Greyish brown top, dirty yellowish white underside.

Additional information

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Listed by

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Further information sources

Search on:


  1. Crothers, J. & Crothers, M., 1988. A key to the crabs and crab-like animals of British inshore waters. Somerset, England: Field Studies Council. [AIDGAP guide, no. 155.]

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

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

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

  5. 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.]


This review can be cited as:

Ager, O.E.D. 2008. Porcellana platycheles Broad-clawed porcelain 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 26-09-2018]. Available from:

Last Updated: 08/05/2008