Behavioral patterns of two fiddler crab species Uca rapax and Uca tangeri in a seminatural mangrove system

Robbert A.F. van Himbeeck, Willeke Huizinga, Ivo Roessink, Edwin T.H.M. Peeters*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Zoos increasingly transform their exhibitions from traditional one-species enclosures to more natural exhibits, that is, environments that capture part of an ecosystem including a selection of animals and plants that occur there. Thus, enhancing the experience of its human visitors while also allowing its residents to possibly show more natural behavior. In 2017 Royal Burger's Zoo (Arnhem, The Netherlands) created and opened a mangrove-like environment containing fiddler crabs. Fiddler crabs display a broad range of behaviors, and this research examines which wild-type behavior and behavioral patterns can be observed on a seminatural mudflat. The behavior shown by Uca rapax and Uca tangeri on the mudflat was counted each hour between 07:00 and 17:00. An asymmetric tidal regime was present in the enclosure including two high water periods. Various known fiddler crab behaviors, including waving and combat, were observed but no copulation. A clear pattern in exposed crabs on the mudflat was found, with low numbers visible in the early morning and the highest numbers present in the early afternoon, while number of visitors did not have a significant effect on this pattern. Interestingly, the highest abundances were not observed around the ebbing tide (07:00–09:00), as observed in the wild, but somewhat later, possibly due to the asymmetric tidal scheme or the interaction of tidal and daily rhythms. This study shows that in captivity, fiddler crabs indeed show a range of natural behaviors which is linked to the tidal and possibly daily rhythm as well.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)343-354
JournalZoo Biology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019


  • invertebrate behavior
  • naturalistic enclosures
  • rhythmicity
  • wild-type behavior

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