Squat lobster

Animal Facts

  • Scientific Name

    Munida spp

  • Animal Type


  • Diet

    scavengers; they scoop up muddy or sandy deposits and sort out edible bits with their mouth parts; they also feed on larger food items

  • Size

    .7-3.5 inches (.8-9 cm)

  • Relatives

    hermit crabs; other crustaceans (crabs; shrimps; lobsters)

  • Habitat

    Deep Sea

  • Range

    Alaska to Baja California, at depths from 60 to 4,800 feet (18-1,463 meters)

Natural History

Two species of squat lobster are found along California coasts. These animals look like lobsters, but they're more closely related to hermit crabs. Unlike their relatives, squat lobsters don't carry shells on their backs. Instead, they squeeze into crevices—and leave their sharp claws exposed to keep neighboring lobsters away.

Squat lobsters also hide under rocks to protect their bodies. Safe from hungry fishes, they wait for snacks to settle nearby—those claws are perfect for reaching out and picking up food.Along with curling up in crevices and hiding under rocks, squat lobsters stake out their territory on sandy patches. They use their claws to scoop up sand and sift for sunken snacks.


Anything that finds its way into the ocean, whether it's tossed away as trash, washes off a beach or falls off a boat, may eventually make its way to the deep sea. It's important to realize that the deep sea is not so far away that it's beyond the reach of human activities. Living creatures in the deep are affected by what we do at the surface.

Cool Facts

Squat lobsters' arms can grow to be several times their body length. 

Squat lobsters sometimes steal food from sea anemones.

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