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Maltese Freshwater Crab

freshwater crabThe Maltese Freshwater Crab (Scientific: Potamon fluviatile lanfrancoi; Maltese: Il-Qabru, Granċ tal-Ilma Ħelu) is endemic - found only in the Maltese Islands. It feeds on a wide range of items, for instance leaves and fruit; however it prefers to feed on animals, such as large insects and snails.

This crab lives where there is a permanent source of freshwater, generally near a watercourse, in burrows that it excavates. The latter at times exceed half a metre in length, and can have more than one opening, enhancing the possibility of escape. The Freshwater Crab also inhabits rubble walls close to a permanent source of flowing freshwater. Given that it lives in habitats where there is a source of water all year round, it implies that its habitat is rather restricted. Threats to this crab hence include water abstraction, loss of habitat and pollution of freshwater from agricultural pesticides, apart from human persecution. Indeed, this species has become very rare and endangered, as result of restriction and loss of habitat and of illegal capture and killing.

The Maltese Freshwater Crab has been protected through legislation under the Environment Protection Act, implying that, amongst others, it is illegal to deliberately disturb, capture or kill, attempt to kill, keep or transport any specimen of this species, without a prior official permit from the Malta Environment and Planning Authority.