Chinese mitten crab

The Chinese mitten crab takes its name from its large, white-tipped claws, which are covered in soft fur and resemble mittens.

Chinese Mitten Crab sat on rock Chinese Mitten Crab, copyright GBNNS

However, these Asian crustaceans are anything but soft and cuddly, and have a ravenous appetite for almost anything that gets in their way.

Their extensive burrowing leaves fragile canal and riverbanks riddled with holes and vulnerable to collapse. The burrows can also damage drainage embankments and structures.

Mitten crabs were first discovered in England more than 70 years ago, and it's thought they were accidentally transported here and elsewhere in Europe in the ballast of ships.

In the right conditions, the mitten crab can reproduce and spread at an alarming rate, travelling up to 1,500km along some rivers and canals, and migrating towards the sea in order to breed. About 1,500km is the the distance between London and Budapest.

Last date edited: 17 November 2020