american horseshoe crab

Scientific name Limulus polyphemus
Descriptor Linnaeus
Year of description 1758
IUCN category VU
Family Limulidae
Genus Limulus
Limulus polyphemus Limulus polyphemus


Limulus polyphemus, commonly known as american horseshoe crab, is a brackish water and salt water crustacea.

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Who is it?


  • Average size
    50 cm
  • Maximum size
    60 cm
  • Longevity
    20 year
  • Average size
    50 cm
  • Maximum size
    60 cm
  • Longevity
    20 year

How to recognize the american horseshoe crab ?

The american horseshoe crab measures around 50 cm. The females are more imposing and some specimens can reach 60 cm. this crustacea is unicolore with a predominantly beige body.

Sexual dimorphism

The female is bigger than the male.

Behaviour & Life cycle

  • Sociability
    living in a group or alone
  • territorial
  • Venomous
  • Way of living

Like all crustaceans, The american horseshoe crab molts whenever it becomes cramped in its shell. Before the hardening of its new body, it is more vulnerable and spends a good part of its time hidden. This mechanism, very complex, allows the periodic renewal of the exoskeleton and part of the internal skeleton. It is also during the moult that the females become fertile.

The american horseshoe crab is a crustacea living in a group or alone naturally found on the bottom. This species is omnivorous with carnivorous tendency . this crustacea lives mainly at night. Usually, it leaves its hiding place and starts to be active once it gets dark.

Although the american horseshoe crab is non-territorial, it is sometimes aggressive towards other species.

The american horseshoe crab has a tendency to dig the ground and bury itself in caves to take refuge.


  • Reproduction
    ovipare qui enfouit ses œufs

The american horseshoe crab is a crustacea ovipare qui enfouit ses œufs.

Harmless species

This species does not represent any particular threats to humans when encountered in its natural environment.

Where to find it?

Where to see this species?

What is its habitat?

Natural environment characteristics

  • Temperature
    13 - 28 °C
  • Depth
    1 - 11 m

Biotope presentation

The american horseshoe crab is most often found at a depth between 1m and 11m. However, it is not impossible to find this species at other depths.

Species of the same biotope

To go further

To read on the web

Sources & Contributions

Participation & Validation

The Fishipedia team and specialist contributors are committed to providing high-quality content. However, although the information comes from scientific sources or testimonials from specialists, the cards may contain inaccuracies.

Benoit Chartrer

Benoit Chartrer

Aurélien Calas

Aurélien Calas


Translation done with the valuable contribution of our translators, who make this information available to a wider audience. We sincerely thank them for their commitment.

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Where to see this species?

Species of the same biotope

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