St. Lawrence species

Toad crab

Hyas araneus

Type of resource

  • Seafood
  • Seafood - crustaceans

Other names

Great spider crab

Status of the resource

  • Not determined

In season

All year round.

SIZE : Up to 10.5 cm for males and 6.5 cm for females.

LIFE EXPECTANCY : A few years after the terminal molt.

LIFE CYCLE : Sexual maturity when it reaches around 4 cm to 6 cm in length for the male, and 3 cm to 4 cm for the female.

In spring, the males carry the females until they are ready to mate. They transfer the sperm using their forelegs. A few days to a few weeks later, the female lays light-orange eggs, which it carries until they hatch. The larvae remain in the water column before transforming into a tiny crab that settles on the bottom.

Toad crabs grow by molting. The frequency of molts decreases with age. After the last molt, called terminal, the crab reaches its final size. Once this size has been attained, the female is ready to reproduce.

A constantly growing armor

The crab has an inextensible outer shell. To grow, it therefore needs to molt. The crab forms a new shell under the old one. When it is ready, the crab slowly sheds its “old armor”. The new shell is soft and will take some time to harden. Hence, the crab is very vulnerable after molting.

The toad crab has a pear-shaped body with a rounded base. The head is pointed and consists of two thin horns. Its shell is brownish-red, brighter and pinker after molting. Its legs are long and slender.

They live on the seabed, usually less than 60 m deep, but can reach depths of up to 400 m.

Toad crabs live in sandy and rocky areas, tolerating temperatures ranging from -1 ° C to 15 ° C.

Its shell is often adorned with algae and invertebrates, which contribute to camouflage.
Credit : Richard Larocque, photo taken in Les Méchins.


Small crusta-ceans
Organic matters

Crabs help to clean the oceans. They eat animal cadavers and dead plants.





  • Limited number of permits
  • Gear type
  • Quota
  • Minimum size
  • Fishing season depending on the zone

In Quebec, fishing targets two species that are not differentiated during offloading: Hyas araneus (toad crab) and Hyas alutaceus (lyre crab). Both toad and lyre crab fishing began in the St. Lawrence in the mid-1990s.

According to the exploratory fishing carried out in recent years, the harvest appears to be sustainable, as its scale is limited. However, a better understanding of the biology of both species and the evolution of how stocks are affected by harvesting is needed to ensure the sustainable development of this type of fishing.

Its lean meat is an excellent source of protein, zinc, vitamin B12, and Omega-3 fatty acids.

Delicate and stringy texture. Fine, salty taste with hints of hazelnut. In addition to the meat, the eggs and gonads are also appreciated. The digestive system, which is greenish-gray to orange-yellow in color, is edible, but can accumulate toxins. Therefore, it should be eaten with caution.