E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Wildlife of British Columbia

Telmessus cheiragonus (Tilesius, 1815)
Helmet Crab; Horse Crab
Family: Atelecyclidae

Species account author: Josephine Hart.
Extracted from Crabs and their relatives of British Columbia.

© Royal BC Museum  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #1678)

E-Fauna BC Static Map
Distribution of Telmessus cheiragonus in British Columbia
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Species Information

Carapace broader than long and subpentagonal; all surfaces covered with minute spiny granules, stout club-shaped setae, and/or longer bristles on all margins and pereiopods; divided into 4 teeth; lateral margin with large triangular teeth, spined on anterior margin. Chelipeds short and spiny, with right larger than left and with more and larger teeth on cutting surfaces. Walking legs compressed laterally and 1st and 4th slightly shorter than others.


Carapace: male 83.5 x 97 mm, female 83 x 102 mm.


Carapace yellow with brownish or greenish area; lateral margins scarlet and depressions light coloured. Chelipeds yellow with scarlet streaks and spots; fingers dark brown with a bright yellow spot; teeth grey. Walking legs yellow and brown with dark and light brown setae. Eyestalk greenish brown; cornea black.


Usually subtidal, on sandy or muddy tideflats, among eelgrass or algae. During breeding season, in early spring, they may be found intertidally on rocks covered with algae.



Siberia; Japan; and Bering Sea to California; intertidal to 110 m.
Distribution In British Columbia

Common in suitable areas.


Well camouflaged and quick moving so that not seen often when alive. During the breeding season they moult and great numbers of the cast shells may form windrows on certain beaches. An allied species, Erimacrus isenbeckii is found in northern Pacific Ocean waters and used for canning and sold under the name of Snow Crab.

Status Information

Origin StatusProvincial StatusBC List
(Red Blue List)
BC Ministry of Environment: BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer--the authoritative source for conservation information in British Columbia.

Additional Photo Sources

General References

Recommended citation: Author, Date. Page title. In Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2019. E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Fauna of British Columbia [efauna.bc.ca]. Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. [Accessed: 14/12/2019 2:12:08 PM]
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