Crab Symbolism (7 Top Meanings) – Dreams & Spirit Animals

Crab symbolism includes:

  • Defensiveness
  • Resilience
  • Adaptability
  • Resourcefulness
  • Self-Reliance
  • Change and Growth
  • A Journey

Animals are often associated with having symbolic meaning and while you will always see reference to the more popular spirit animals (wolves, lions, rabbits, sharks, birds, etc.), there are some less common animals that have a strong symbolic or spiritual meaning.

The crab is one such animal.

This reclusive and often misunderstood creature will often present itself as a totem and spirit animal for a number of people and its characteristics can have a strong sense of relatability depending on your current life situation.

You might have found the crab appearing to you at specific times and may therefore be wondering if this is a sign. In this article, we cover the main symbols of the crab and define the meanings that we can most closely relate to at different times in our lives.

Crab Symbolism

> This article is from our A-Z series on sea creature symbolism


Crab Symbolism

Crabs may be relatively small in stature but this doesn’t mean that they should be taken for granted. Crabs are one of the most resourceful, adaptable, and resilient creatures around and are one of the few creatures that roam both the land and sea.

Below are 7 of the main symbolic meanings of crabs.

1. Defensive

First and foremost, crabs are a symbol of defense. Their hard shell, oversized claws, and seemingly fearless attitude are all symbolic of their strong defensive capabilities.

Crabs will rarely back down from a fight and a quick YouTube search will show them battling with a range of animals including other crabs, lobsters, scorpions, octopuses, and yes, even humans. While they are certainly not aggressive by nature, they are also far from a pushover.

This protective shell and fearless attitude are symbolic of a human’s need to wear a metaphorical protective shell of our own. Wherever we choose to go in life and whatever path we take must be done so with the ability to defend our decisions and choices.

Not all of our actions will be supported and crabs are symbolic of our need to protect ourselves first.

2. Resilience

Crabs are resilient creatures and when they grab something with their claws, you’ll find that they are very reluctant to let go. When a crab makes a decision, it is usually decisive and one that they always follow through with.

This is true even when they follow a path in a sidestepping manner. They crawl in a very unorthodox way however their resilience always sees them reach their end destination.

This is symbolic of a need to persevere in life and be resilient through your journey.

3. Adaptability

The crab is a creature that has many predators such as herons and sea turtles, both on land and at sea, meaning it needs to be in a constant adaptive state just to survive. While crabs are certainly no pushovers and will fight back at a range of predators, their main skill actually comes from adaptability and conflict avoidance.

Whether on land or out in the ocean, crabs quickly find ways to adapt to their situation and position themselves to hide from predators but to also pounce on unsuspecting prey.

4. Resourcefulness

Crabs are very resourceful and have adapted to survive in a range of living environments. From an early age, crabs will shed their shell in order to continue to grow into adulthood and this often leaves them very vulnerable during the transition.

They will therefore find hiding spots in the sand, mud, caves, and random crevices and their ability to survive in most environments is a testament to their resourceful and resilient nature.

There are times in our lives when we will feel vulnerable, however, the crab symbolizes that this is an important and necessary stage and that we must be resourceful and patient in order to overcome it.

5. Self Reliance

Crabs are perhaps one of the best symbols and examples of self-reliance and independence. As mentioned earlier, crabs roam the land and the sea and subject themselves to countless predators yet, they still manage to exude confidence.

Their strong level of self-reliance means that they find ways to survive (and sometimes thrive) in a range of environments and this is down to their ability to make decisive decisions, whether that be roaming freely or choosing when and where to hide.

6. Change & Growth

Throughout a crab’s life cycle, they will dump their shell and exchange it for a new one. This is usually done when they have outgrown their current shell and the opportunity for a larger one becomes available.

This has a strong symbolic meaning for our personal lives as most of us will look to level up as we outgrow our current surroundings. Whether this is getting a new job or promotion, moving to a bigger house, or starting a family.

Many believe that the goal of life is to continually strive for larger goals and always be improving. It’s said that if you are the same now as you were 10 years ago then you have not experienced sufficient growth in life.

Crabs, therefore, symbolize the need to always reach for larger goals in life and upgrade when you have outgrown certain aspects, be that financial, spiritual, professional, locationally, or even your friendship groups.

7. A Journey

Crabs do not move in a conventional manner and rarely take a direct path to their end destination. Crabs move in all directions and most notably, they will typically take a sideways route.

This is symbolic of not needing to always take the direct route in life. A change of directions will often be needed and no route is ever as direct or straightforward as what we might initially assume.

To navigate through life successfully, we must be prepared to take sideways movements much like the crab. As we’ve covered, crabs are very good at being resourceful, adaptable, and self-reliant and the sideways walking does not cause them any issues as they always reach their end destination.

Crab Spirit Animal Meaning

Those that have the crab as a totem and spirit animal are usually reserved individuals. They can be shy, reclusive, and self-reliant and as a result, these individuals are usually very introverted outside of their immediate friendship groups and family.

A crab will act as a spirit animal for those that are strong-willed, set on a destination in life (even though they may not take the direct route towards it), and are resilient in the face of hardship or danger.

Crab Meaning in Astrology

The crab is the astrological symbol for the star sign Cancer. This means that those who have a strong affinity with astrology will also closely relate to the symbolisms of the crab that we covered above.

Cancerians are mostly known to be conservative individuals whose mood is heavily influenced by the moon. They require a significant amount of alone time but also form great friendships and have a happy home life.

From what we know about the crab, it’s easy to see why it is the symbol of the cancer star sign as the similarities are plentiful.

Meaning of Crabs in Dreams

A crab appearing to you in a dream can be symbolic for a number of reasons. Firstly, it could be a sign that you feel vulnerable or unsafe. Crabs will typically hide away without their shell as they feel exposed and vulnerable so this could be a sign that you are feeling something similar.

Secondly, it could be a sign that you need to be adaptable and resilient for some potential challenges in the future. Crabs constantly need to adapt on land and at sea in order to survive and this could be symbolic that you will need to utilize a hard exterior to overcome these life challenges.

Finally, a crab appearing in your dream could be an indication that you seek independence. Crabs function well in communities but are ultimately independent and self-reliable creatures. If you are clinging to someone or something in life then the appearance of a crab could subconsciously be an indication that you need to let go and regain control of your own independence.

Final Thoughts

The crab symbolism is unique and something many people can relate to, they work well in communities but for the most part, they are reclusive and self-reliable animals. If a crab is presenting itself to you as a spirit animal then this could be a sign that your hard exterior is preventing you from opening up to others.

It could also be a sign that you are faced with challenging paths and will need to make an occasional, unconventional sidestep in order to successfully navigate them. Finally, you might be facing some difficult decisions in life and this is the time when you need to be defensive, adaptable, and resilient in order to overcome them.