A field guide to Kenyan mangroves

species list


Dotilla fenestrata Hilgendorf, 1869

Family: Ocypodidae

This beautifully patterened small crab inhabits the sand flats in front of the mangroves and is often called a sand bubbler. These crabs form small armies scouring the sediment for microalgae.

Zone: Sand flats adjacent to mangroves (Hartnoll, 1975).

Habitat: Spirals into mud.

Food: Detritus feeder.

Ecological notes: Occurs in swarms on sandflats at low tide, giving it the name of 'Soldier crab'. Creates a temporary 'igloo' structure in which a pocket of air is trapped (Hartnoll, 1973).

Distinguishing characteristics: Spirals into mud, enlarged buccal frame, small size (carapace width ~ 1 cm).

Geographical range: From Somalia to South Africa, Madagascar and Comore (Vannini and Valmori, 1981).



Cannicci, S., F. Dahdouh-Guebas and L. Montemagno, 1993. "Field Keys for Kenyan Mangrove Crabs." Museo Zoologico "La Specola", Dipartimento di Biologia Animale e Genetica dell'UniversitÓ Degli Studi di Firenze, Via Romana 17, I-50125 Firenze, Italia.

Hartnoll, R.G., 1973. Factors affecting the distribution and behaviour of the crab Dotilla fenestrata on East African shores. Est. Coast. Mar. Sci., 1: 137-152.

Hartnoll, R.G., 1975. "The Grapsidae and Ocypodidae (Decapoda: Brachyura) of Tanzania." J. Zool. Lond. 177:305-328.

Macnae, W., 1968. "A General Account of the Fauna and Flora of Mangrove Swamps and Forests in the Indo-West-Pacific Region." Advanced Marine Biology 6:73-270.

Vannini, M. and P. Valmori, 1981. Researchers on the coast of Somalia. The shore and the dune of Sar Uanle. 31. Ocypodidae and Gecarcinidae (Crustacea Brachyura). Monitore Zoologico Italiano 14: 199-226.

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all text and photographs copyrightę 2002-2016 David Gillikin and Anouk Verheyden
Created 28 August 2001

Updated June 24, 2016