Chinese mitten crab

Body contents

Chinese mitten crab (Eriocheir sinensis) can cause erosion by burrowing into river banks and shorelines. It can impact aquaculture activities. It can host liver fluke which harms human health and can carry several diseases of crustaceans including crayfish plague.

What to look for


  • hairy mittens on claws (unlike any Australian crab)
  • 4 spines on either side of eyes
  • 4 sharp spines in between eyes
  • smooth shell, up to 8cm wide.
Chinese mitten crab

Where to look

Look in or around:

  • mud.

Likely habitats include:

  • freshwater rivers, estuaries and coastal areas
  • freshwater for first 4–5years
  • usually tropical waters.

Similar native species

This native species looks similar to the Chinese mitten crab. It does not need to be reported.

Red bait crab (Plagusia chabrus)

Chinese mitten crab


  • orange–red shell, darker red on walking legs
  • front of shell deeply notched between the eyes
  • hairless claws with bumps and ridges
  • covered with dense fine hair
  • shell up to 7cm wide.


  • exposed rocky shores
  • lower shores, usually shallow waters to 50m deep.

Known locations are Hervey Bay, Queensland, as well as New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, and southern parts of Western Australia to Bunbury.


Report it

See something unusual? Report it. Even if you’re not sure.

If you see something you think is a pest:

  • note the exact location (screenshot your map app or enable photo geotagging on your phone)
  • take a photo (use something for size reference, like a coin or note)
  • contact your state or territory authority.


Stop the spread of marine pests

Start with these simple steps:

  • Inspect and clean your boat or yacht. Make sure you check hard to reach areas.
  • Treat the hull of your boat or yacht regularly.
  • Clean and dry your fishing and diving gear after every use.

How you can stop the spread of marine pests.

Your location

Check our marine pests map.

The map shows known pests and pests to look for around Australia.

Chinese mitten crab (Eriocheir sinensis)

Chinese mitten crab (Eriocheir sinensis)

Not established in Australia

Features: Hairy mittens on claws. 4 spines either side of eyes, 4 sharp spines in between eyes. Smooth shell up to 8cm wide.
Habitat: Mud on river banks, estuaries and coastal areas, usually tropical waters.
Affects: Native species, aquaculture, human health.
Movement: Fishing gear, people moving live crabs and releasing them.