Kabourophobia – The Fear Of Crabs

I am easily freaked out. There are lots of things I don’t like – clowns, jellyfish, spiders, stickers (when they go furry – yuk!), caves, heights, rollercoasters, thunder and lightning…many, many things. But nothing, absolutely nothing compares to how much crabs (the 8-legged crustacean kind, not the nasty disease kind!) freak me out.

This fear is known as kabourophobia (which I didn’t know until today!). To be honest, I don’t have a phobia of them any more, more that I just really really don’t like them, but at one point, the fear was so much that I couldn’t watch any programs that may have had a crab in it, and even a picture of one would be enough to bring me out in a sweat. I have absolutely no idea where this fear came from, and nor do my parents. There is nothing that any of us can remember that would have triggered this fear. The only thing I can think of is that I associated them with spiders, something else I don’t like, but give me a big hairy tarantula over a crab any day! I know that they can’t really hurt us, and I’ve never been frightened of the thought of them nipping me. The fear is over the way they look, with their crabby little legs, shell and especially the way they scuttle sidewards. However, I’m not frightened of lobsters, which is strange as they’re similar!

The very first memory I have of being frightened was when I was little. We were on holiday in Cornwall and had gone down to the shore. There was a tiny dead crab on the sand, possibly not even the whole body, but I ran all the way back to where we were sitting because it scared me. Whenever we visited an aquarium, especially the Sea Life Centre, I basically walked around with my eyes shut and as far away from the tanks as I could possibly get so I didn’t see any crabs. When I was 16 and on holiday with my family in Cornwall, my brother found a crab leg on the beach and decided to show it to me. Even that was enough to cause me to panic, and the fear seemed to get worse the older I got.

The worst experience came when I was 18. We had all gone on holiday to Tenerife. We used to visit this lovely public lido which also had a natural pool that was filled by the tide – essentially a giant rockpool, a crabs favourite habitat. Somehow, everyone managed to persuade me to go into it. When we got in, the tide was in so it was nice and full, and not a crab in sight (I wouldn’t have gone anywhere near it otherwise!). We had a lovely time swimming in the water among all the fishes. Crabs didn’t cross my mind once. Eventually, the tide started to go out and it was time to get out. I looked around – and all the sides to the pool, the big rock in the pool and the rocky steps to get out were absolutely covered in crabs. Hundreds of them – some tiny, some huge. Of course, I immediately started to panic, especially when I realised they were all over the steps I would need to use. I clung to Graham in the middle of the pool and cried my eyes out, especially when I realised they had probably been in the water with us the whole time. A few people managed to move the crabs off the steps for me, but I still had to get within a foot or two of them to get out. I still have no idea how I managed – I think knowing it was that or stay trapped in the pool with them forever swayed it. I realised soon after this that I was being ridiculous, and needed to sort myself out. Living in Birmingham though we don’t get many opportunities to come close to a crab so it has taken time.

Graham and I went to Paris for a long weekend and visited a farmers market that sold seafood. Assuming the crabs (which were rather large!) were dead, I went up to a stall selling them and forced myself to look at it, standing less than a foot away from one. This was a huge step in itself, as like I said earlier, even a dead claw was enough to frighten me. I was doing so well – until it moved. Turns out it wasn’t dead, and I legged it. On the same trip, we went for a meal and ordered a seafood platter, and on it was a whole crab. I have always loved crab meat (possibly the satisfaction of knowing I was eating one of them!) but couldn’t have had it when it looked like a crab. I couldn’t quite bring myself to touch it, but I was fine with it on the plate. This was definitely progress. I started to make myself google ‘crabs’ and look at images online. I think this has really helped me, as I developed a weird sort of fascination with them, especially the giant spider crabs. They still terrified me and I had lots of nightmares about them but I was slowly getting better.

A few years ago, my uni friends and I went to the Sea Life Centre in Birmingham for the day. I read up on it before to see if there were any crabs, and I found out there was a ‘petting pool’ where you had the chance to hold one. I was determined that I was going to do this. I found my resolve wavering when it came to it, but my friends, who knew how much I wanted to do it gently egged me on. I only managed a few seconds, but I held a crab. I also went up to the tank that contained many giant spider crabs and watched them.


Since then, I’ve got much better. They still terrify me and I won’t willingly go near one. I try to make myself look at pictures of them on the internet once in a while, and on a holiday with friends I climbed over lots of rocks in the sea, knowing subconsciously that there were crabs lurking, but pushed it out of my mind. I am now determined to completely ‘get over it’ so that in a couple of years time I can take the kids to the seaside and go crabbing.

Wish me luck!

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34 thoughts on “Kabourophobia – The Fear Of Crabs”

  1. It is brilliant that you have come this far with your fear. They are quite strange looking creatures though. I can understand your fear. My OH is scared of clowns and rats. I am scared of a long list of things. I hope that you do manage to go crabbing with your boys one day. Good luck 🙂

  2. I have Hellenologophobia which is the fear of false teeth, I cannot look at them, be near them and even talking about them is making me feel nauseous x

  3. Well done on improving. I really felt for you reading about the rock pool. I am not sure I have been that scared in my life of anything, but I was scared for you reading it.

  4. I’m not a fan of them either, never really had a problem with them growing up but as I got older I developed a real disliking for anything sea-based – Sharks, big fish, jellyfish, crabs the lot. Not sure why or how but it just grew and grew. Much better than I used to be but they’re sitll not my favourite things ever.

    And oh my goodness, furry stickers *shudder*, the things they harbour. I hate really old dvds where the price label got left on… arrrgggg

  5. It’s great that you’ve been able to manage the fear and not let it beat you. I’ve always hated needles, but just had to deal with it during pregnancy and labour. I’ll still be avoiding them as much as possible though!

  6. I am with you on that, I have arachnophobia and crabs are just a little to spidery for my liking, though I am no where near as bad as I used to be I still wouldn’t go out of my way to go near one!

  7. That trip to Tenerife sounds horrendous – poor, poor you. I think you’ve done so well and good luck with it all. I can’t stand the idea of rats/mice, so get where you are coming from. We thought about getting a hamster for the kids at one point as they were desperate for a pet, but I realised I wouldn’t even be able to hold it!

  8. Wow, what a story! Made me remember I used to be arachnophobic (spiders) but I had to get over it when I married a man with the same phobia. It was either deal with it or resign myself to living in a house where no-one would remove the spiders – the latter was more unthinkable than the former.

  9. To be fair, crabs are b*stards. I got nipped by one on the inside of the foot when paddling in Scarborough bay… I was 12! Scarred for life!

  10. Well done on being on your way to conquering your phobias – and good luck with your end goal of being able to take the kids to the seaside without fear! x

  11. good luck! it’s great to try and overcome your fears. I used to be terrified of spiders, but didn’t want to pass it on to the kids, so worked at getting over it.

  12. I think you are so brave! I have a fear of wasps & hornets Spheksophobia – even though I have never been stung! I’m quite happy with bees though as I find them fascinating!

  13. I feel like this about wasps and bees. I am just terrified of them and no matter how much I try I just can’t help myself. I run and flap my hands like a mad person (yea, this scares the kids too)
    I am glad you are doing better with crabs, this means they there is a hope for me too… maybe… one day…

  14. I have never come across anyone else who has a fear of crabs. I also have no idea where it came from, I used to go crabbing as a child! Now the thought of crabs is enough to make me shudder, but like you said, I have also a strange secret obsession with them, they fascinate me as well as disgust. Such a bizarre thing to be afraid of when I have almost zero contact with them!
    Glad to hear you are getting over your fear!

    1. Yessss! Feel much better now I know I’m not the only one. It’s a bizarre thing isn’t it?!

  15. I am petrified of the buggers. I am an outdoors kind of man, swim in the sea, sharks don’t bother me and generally afraid of nothing…apart from crabs that is. I tried the sea life centre petting pool and was handed a small crab. I managed about 5 seconds and then it moved and I shrieked like a child and dropped it. Much to everyone else’s amusement!
    I respect how cool they are, in an alien kind of way. But I remain somehow convinced that they are brimming with bad intentions. Scary bastards.
    I would like to conquer this bizarre fear.

  16. You and me are literally the same person I am scared of lots of things but NOTHING in the world scares me like a crab. Like if someone has seen even a little one is can’t go in the water. I can’t even imagine what I would have done if I had been in the rock pool situation lord help me. Uuuuugggghhhhccckkk.,

  17. I’m the same, they’re just too spider like for me! Creepy and fast and painful if they nip you!
    I’m glad you’re talking about it though, helps to share things!
    Amy|Purely Amy.

  18. I feel for you with your phobia i really do as i have a few myself but it is so fabulous the way in which you have approached your fears. Thank you for sharing 🙂 X x

  19. I had no idea that that was the name for fear of crabs! I’m terrified of moths so feel your pain!

  20. Another new word
    Just trying to think of what the fear of cockroaches might be
    Scare me witless!!

  21. Came back yesterday from the beach where i enjoyed watching my almost ten year old son try out skimboarding for the first time. He loved it! I watched him from the water and was in total heaven bobbing up and down in the wonderful, big, beautifully wind-shaped waves. Until I felt a crab on my foot. Or maybe it wasn’t a crab and the old phobia just finally made it back to my consciousness. After that I could barely put my feet on the bottom. So today I began to look into this fear on the web because I’m old now and tired of this sort of thing. Happily I found this wonderful post. Heading straight to a petting pool at the Aquarium in Baltimore. Thank you so much. You’ve really inspired me (and the others here, it seems). Great work!

  22. I have this same fear, it developed when i encountered a spider crab in an aquarium when I was about six. Have been terrified ever since.

  23. I can understand that. I’m the same way with stink bugs. even seeing the word scares me! It’s really bad. And, once, when I was 6, I went to the playground and it was covered in stink bugs, so I understand your rockpool story. But congratulations on your improvement!

  24. I feel for u, I have been going to salt springs since I was 3, and around age seven I had to look underwater for at least a good ten minutes for crabs before I could go in, good progress on getting over your fear, wish me luck on it!!

  25. My fear of them was bad as a young teen. One gave me a pinch on my 11th birthday at a petting area. When i was twelve at a school trip we were retrieving some crab pots. I was exited. We pulled them up and got three in one pot. I was intimidated when i saw them. Much larger than the carcinus maenas at my birthday. These were larger edible crabs. One managed to escape the pot and this was in a wooden row boat. I started crying though the other kids didn’t bat an eyelid even though a big crab(cancer pagurus) was near their feet. It was about to escape and i was closest to it. The other kids told me to grab it and put it back in but i was too scared. It crawled out into the water. They were mad at me hehe and were one crab short of a meal. But i didn’t care because we were close to shore. I guess i was feeling a bit sympathetic towards it too. Another one managed to get lose but i ran passed it and got onto the dock. On the same trip a guy was giving a lecture about a lobsters and he showed a live one around. He went around in a circle and he held it close to my face to give me a good look at its mouthparts…ugh.
    I guess with crabs and other crustaceans it was the way their eyes popped out of their carapace and most of all their mouthparts that make me shudder, as they grind up whatever dead or alive creature they can grab. I have had nightmare of being surrounded by them in knee deep water. Actually, two years ago at a long shallow beach. Me and a friend were quite far out, but were still standing. Suddenly more and more crabs(carcinus maenas) appeared. I started to panic and splashed towards shore, with my friend being influenced with my fear and running too. As i got closer, a small crab ran over my foot like a daredevil showing off to it’s friends.
    I felt that i needed to share these stories cause it is my fear of them are the motivated by the mouthparts mostly. Dont mind the scientific names i mentioned, just for reference if you want to look them up. One a final note it’s nice to see others posting many years down the line.

  26. So I have had the same phobia, for years and years now. It’s so inspirational to see you actually got over it. I am also aiming to, since is has been restricting me a lot during holidays. I always stand at the edge of the water for 10 minutes before getting in, because I want to be absolutely sure that no crabs are around. Rocks are a big no-go. Would be so nice to just swim and go near the sea without fear.

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