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Mud Fiddler Crabs (Uca pugnax)

You'll sometimes find these small (up to about one inch), almost black crabs on the mud among the marsh grass at low tide. What you'll probably see first is the male's large, yellow pincer which has little other use than as a display during courtship. The females have dark pincers of equal size.

Mud fiddlers, as the name implies, burrow in the mud; the tunnel of a burrow can be up to three feet long. Two entrances to burrows can be seen in the lower photo. As high tide approaches, mud fiddlers plug the entrances to their burrows with mud and wait for the tide to recede before coming out again.

Both photos were taken near the edge of Toms Cove (map) on the refuge. Mud fiddlers are found along most of the Atlantic coast.

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