Risso's crab (Xantho pilipes)

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



The carapace is flat with a smooth dorsal surface, and is up to 3 cm in length. A pair of broad sub-median lobes are present between the eyes. Antero-lateral margins of carapace with 5 obtuse teeth, all hairy on the underside. Chelipeds stout and slightly unequal. Dorsal surface of carapace yellowish with patches of red. Chelipeds and walking legs yellowish; propodus and dactylus of chelipeds brown.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Reported from the west coasts of Britain as far north as Shetland and found on the southwest coast and the vicinity of the Thames.

Global distribution

Extending from the British Isles north to west Norway and Sweden and south to the Mediterranean and West Africa.


Found on the lower shore of sandy and stony beaches to 110 m.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • The 3rd to 4th pairs of antero-lateral teeth separated from each other by an inwardly directed and distally broadened depression.
  • Outer surfaces of cheliped segments often with short transverse grooves bordered by very flat tubercles that are sometimes arranged in a 'scale-like' manner.
  • Dorsal and outer faces of propodus each bear a shallow longitudinal excavation.

Additional information

Can be distinguished from the closely related Xantho hydrophilus by the presence of a dense fringe of hair on the lateral and posterior margins of the carapace and on the walking legs.

Listed by

- none -


  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.

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  6. 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.]

  7. Ingle, R., 1997. Crayfishes, lobsters and crabs of Europe. An illustrated guide to common and traded species. London: Chapman and Hall.

  8. Ingle, R.W., 1980. British Crabs. Oxford: British Museum (Natural History), Oxford University Press.

  9. JNCC (Joint Nature Conservation Committee), 1999. Marine Environment Resource Mapping And Information Database (MERMAID): Marine Nature Conservation Review Survey Database. [on-line] http://www.jncc.gov.uk/mermaid

  10. 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.


  1. Fenwick, 2018. Aphotomarine. Occurrence dataset http://www.aphotomarine.com/index.html Accessed via NBNAtlas.org on 2018-10-01

  2. NBN (National Biodiversity Network) Atlas. Available from: https://www.nbnatlas.org.

  3. OBIS (Ocean Biodiversity Information System),  2024. Global map of species distribution using gridded data. Available from: Ocean Biogeographic Information System. www.iobis.org. Accessed: 2024-06-15

  4. South East Wales Biodiversity Records Centre, 2018. SEWBReC Myriapods, Isopods, and allied species (South East Wales). Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/rvxsqs accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-02.


This review can be cited as:

Skewes, M. 2008. Xantho pilipes Risso's crab. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 15-06-2024]. Available from: https://www.marlin.ac.uk/species/detail/1629

Last Updated: 08/05/2008