Peregrine Crab Varuna litterata

  • Rivers
  • Crustaceans
  • Crab


Also known as the river swimming crab, the peregrine crab is a benthic freshwater and brackish water species occurring at 0 to 757 meters and can be found throughout the tropics.

It bears a smooth, square carapace which is light brown to brownish grey. Its legs are flattened and fringed with setae – a stiff hair-like structure, allowing them to be used as paddles for swimming.

Habitat and ecology

This freshwater crab prefers estuarine, slow-moving or stagnant bodies of water but can be found up to 20 kilometers inland. It is also usually found in areas that have an influx from the open ocean. Large species tend to dwell in intertidal areas and are associated with floating clumps of Sargassum spp.

Males perform precopulatory courtship rituals using olfactory and tactile cues.

V. litterata is an opportunistic omnivore, known to feed primarily on crustaceans and plant debris.


Conservation and threats

The peregrine crab is currently not evaluated in the IUCN Red List of Threated Species. Like other intertidal species, the crab may be affected by habitat loss, pollution in rivers and the coastal zone, and in some areas of the world is collected for food.

Did you know?

This crab is enjoyed pickled in vinegar in many South-East Asian countries.