Types of Lobsters (#3 Is Shocking Without Claws)

Who knew that there were different types of lobsters? There are many lobster species, and there as many similarities as there are differences between the different species. There are lobsters without claws and, of course, there are clawed lobsters.

What Are Lobsters?

Lobsters are invertebrates that scavenge shallow areas of the ocean. There are two main kinds of lobsters: true (clawed) and false (spiny). Usually, three of their five pairs of legs have claws, including the first pair, which are usually much larger than the others.

All lobsters are decapod (have 5 sets of legs) omnivores that feed on plants, fish, and other crustaceans during the night. Lobsters are known for their fierce cannibalism in times of captivity (hmm, fun!)  All lobsters molt (shed their skin) numerous times throughout their lifespans to support their growth, but this is a very slow process. Each species of lobster goes through a hard shell and soft shell season, as they rotate through molting stages. These stages affect the taste and quality of the lobster we eat. 

Robust Kitchen

Parts Of A Lobster

anatomy of lobsters

Where Do Lobsters Live?

In nature, lobsters prefer living under crevices, cracks, and caves on rocky, muddy, or sandy bottoms. For the most part, lobsters hide in crevices during the day and only come out at night to look for food.

Kinds of Lobsters

Clawed Lobsters

These are the types of lobsters that you’d visualize in your mind because they are the most common lobster species.

The american lobster, one of the types of lobster found in America.

Clawed Lobsters have five pairs of legs used for walking and 3 pairs of claws. At first glance, you would notice only two claws to the front as these are always the largest pair. Both the American lobster and European lobster are clawed lobster and it is the species that you’d be served in a restaurant.

European Lobster
European Lobster.
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Scientific name: Nephropidae
  • Class: Malacostraca
  • Family: Nephropidae; Dana, 1852
  • Order: Decapods

Fun Fact:  Lobster is fished in water between 2 and 900 meters (1 and 500 fathoms), although some lobsters live at 3,700 meters (2,000 fathoms).

Reef Lobsters

Reef lobsters also have claws but they are not classified as clawed lobster. These kinds of lobsters only have claws on the first pair of limbs and not on any others.

Reef lobster
Reef Lobster.
  • Scientific name: Enoplometopus
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Order: Decapods
  • Rank: Genus
  • Subphylum: Crustacea

Fun Fact: All Reef Lobsters are very territorial and aggressive towards each other, so only one specimen or a mated pair should be kept per tank. You can buy them from online fishing stores or general pet stores like Petco.

Spiny Lobsters

Ever wondered what a lobster without claws is called? Well, spiny lobsters are one of these species of lobster. They are also known as rock lobster and they do not have claws on the front of the body. These kinds of lobsters are also a popular source of food and can be ordered at restaurants.

Caribbean Spiny Lobster
Caribbean Spiny Lobster.
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Scientific name: Palinuridae
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Family: Palinuridae; Latreille, 1802
  • Order: Decapods

They have very large or long antennae which are spiny in appearance hence their name. They feed on crab, snails, algae, and other small creatures. Spiny lobsters can be seen marching after a rainstorm.

So, if you see a photo of a lobster without claws, it’s a warm water lobster. Also called rock lobster or a spiny lobster.​ Spiny lobsters do not have enlarged front claws and are harmless to people.

Fun Fact: Potential predators may be deterred from eating spiny lobsters because they get scared off by a loud screech made by the antennae of the spiny lobsters rubbing against a smooth part of the exoskeleton. 

Slipper Lobsters

Slipper lobsters are also lobsters without claws and, like spiny lobsters, they have enlarged antennae. However, slipper lobsters are flat. In fact, these kinds of lobsters look like they were flat pressed. Unlike other lobsters that hide in rocks, slipper lobsters are more likely to bury themselves in mud or sand during the day.

Slipper Lobster
Slipper Lobster.
  • Scientific name: Scyllaridae
  • Class: Malacostraca
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Order: Decapods
  • Rank: Family
  • Higher classification: Achelata

Furry Lobsters

These lobster species have hairlike follicles over their bodies, hence the name, furry lobster. They have noticeable antennae but not as large as spiny lobsters. Furry lobsters are smaller than other species of lobster.

Blind Furry Lobster
  • Rank: Species
  • Family: Palinuridae; (or Synaxidae)
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda

Furry lobsters are small decapod crustaceans, closely related to the slipper lobsters and spiny lobsters. The antennae are not as enlarged as in spiny and slipper lobsters, and the body is covered in short hairs, hence the name furry lobster.

Squat Lobsters

Though not officially a type of lobster, they do somewhat resemble clawed lobsters, however, they are more closely related to hermit crabs. Squat lobsters live in crevices but are also known to burrow into sand in search of food. Squat lobsters are flattened crustaceans with long tails held curled beneath the cephalothorax.

Squat Lobster

Norway Lobster

The Norway lobster (Nephrops norvegicus) has the shape of other lobsters but their bodies are narrower. They are orange-pink lobsters that grow up to 10 inches long.

Norway Lobster
Digital StillCamera

The meat extracted from the tail of the Norway lobster is known as scampi. It is one of the most sorted after delicacies in Europe.

Cape Lobster

The Cape lobster (Homarinus capensis) is a species of small lobster that lives off the coast of South Africa. It is usually found in shallow coastal waters and rock pools.

Lobster by Genera


The European lobster and Atlantic lobster both belong to the genus Homarus. Homarus Gammarus (European Lobster) grows to a length of 24 inches and can weigh up to 13 pounds. These types of lobsters are considered a delicacy.

Homarus Gammarus (European Lobster)
Homarus Gammarus (European Lobster)

Homarus americanus usually grows in length to between 8–24 inches. They weigh about 1.1–9.0 lbs. But, they are known to exceed 44 lbs. It’s the heaviest marine crustacean in existence.

Homarus americanus
Homarus americanus
  • Scientific name: Homarus
  • Family: Nephropidae
  • Class: Malacostraca
  • Order: Decapoda
  • Phylum: Arthropoda

Nephropsis Rosea

Also known as the rosy lobsterette or two-toned lobsterette. It is found in the Caribbean sea at depths up to 2600 feet.

Nephropsis Rosea


These types of lobsters are also known as scampi. However, they differ from the other variants like the Norway lobster because they have two main claws that are of equal size.

Metanephrops japonicus


The Patagonian lobsterettea or thymops birsteini is found around the coasts of South America. It has two large claws and a long tail. Its meat is considered to be delicious.


Ancanthacaris have very small eyes, are very small and lack color. Their antennae are long and whip-like.

The first three pairs of walking legs of acanthacaris end in claws. The first pair of claws is symmetrical and ends in long fingers covered with sharp spines on cutting edges, but without hairs.


Eunephrops is made up of four species that are all found only in the Western Atlantic Ocean: Eunephrops bairdii, which is the typical red lobster, found about 230-360 meters deep in the ocean, and the Eunephrops cadenasi which has a cylindrical body and enlarged first claws.


Hoploparia are extinct species of lobsters discovered through intense studies of fossils. There are about 40 different types of fossil lobsters discovered in sediments across Europe, Argentina, Canada, and the US.

Fun Facts About Lobsters

  • Lobsters are omnivores. They eat both plants and animals. Their diet is made up of fish, mollusks, other crustaceans, worms, and some plant life.
  • Lobsters often resort to cannibalism when there is not enough food. They eat each other.
  • Lobsters are the only source of nutrition for the Symbion. It lives in the lobster’s gills and mouthparts to stay alive.
  • Lobsters keep growing for as long as they live.
  • Lobsters taste with their legs and chew with their stomachs. Their brains are in their throats and kidneys in their heads!
  • Lobsters ‘scream’ in pain when cooked. The sound is actually air trapped in the stomach and forced through the mouth after being out of water.
  • Lobsters can regenerate lost limbs several times over their lifetime.
  • The Aegirocassis benmoulae, used to swim about in the sea many thousand years ago. At one point, it was once the largest animal on Earth.
  • Lobsters usually prefer one limb as their main tool. They can also be ambidextrous.
  • Caribbean Spiny Lobsters are the only lobsters without claws.


Further Reading:

  1. Homarus Weber, 1795″Integrated Taxonomic Information System.
  2. Irv Kornfield; Austin B. Williams; Robert S. Steneck (1995). “Assignment of Homarus capensis (Herbst, 1792), the Cape lobster of South Africa, to Homarius new genus (Decapoda: Nephropidae)” (PDF). Fishery Bulletin93 (1): 97–102.
  3. Subfamily Nephropinae Dana, 1852[permanent dead link], pp. 51–86 in Holthuis (1991).
  4. Dale Tshudy; Rafael Robles; Tin-Yam Chan; Ka Chai Ho; Ka Hou Chu; Shane T. Ahyong; Darryl L. Felder (2009). “Phylogeny of marine clawed lobster families Nephropidae Dana, 1852, and Thaumastochelidae Bate, 1888, based on mitochondrial genes”. In Joel W. Martin; Keith A. Crandall; Darryl L. Felder (eds.). Decapod Crustacean PhylogeneticsCRC Press. pp. 357–368. doi:10.1201/9781420092592-c18ISBN 978-1-4200-9258-5.
  5. Sammy De Grave; N. Dean Pentcheff; Shane T. Ahyong; et al. (2009). “A classification of living and fossil genera of decapod crustaceans” (PDF). Raffles Bulletin of Zoology. Suppl. 21: 1–109. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-06-06.
  6. Matthias Obst; Peter Funch; Gonzalo Giribet (2005). “Hidden diversity and host specificity in cycliophorans: a phylogeographic analysis along the North Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea”. Molecular Ecology14 (14): 4427–4440. doi:10.1111/j.1365-294X.2005.02752.xPMID 16313603.
  7. Key to species of the genus Homarus. p. 57. Archived from the original on 2008-06-08.
  8. Lipke B. Holthuis (1991). “Homarus gammarus“. Marine Lobsters of the WorldFAO Species Catalogue, Volume 13. FAO Fisheries Synopsis No. 125. Food and Agriculture Organization. p. 60. ISBN 92-5-103027-8. Archived from the original on 2010-09-10.
  9. Alan Davidson (2004). “Lobster (both European and American)”. North Atlantic Seafood: A Comprehensive Guide with RecipesTen Speed Press. pp. 188–189. ISBN 978-1-58008-450-5.
  10. “Fishery Statistical Collections. Global Production”Fisheries Global Information SystemFood and Agriculture Organization. Retrieved September 30, 2010.
  11. Homarus americanus. p. 58. Archived from the original on 2011-06-08. In Holthuis (1991).
  12. “Heaviest marine crustacean”Guinness World Records. Archived from the original on May 28, 2006.
  13. Dale Tshudy (2003). “Clawed lobster (Nephropidae) diversity through time”. Journal of Crustacean Biology23 (1): 178–186. doi:10.1651/0278-0372(2003)023[0178:CLNDTT]2.0.CO;2JSTOR 1549871.
  14. Carrie E. Schweitzer; Rodney M. Feldmann; Alessandro Garassino; Hiroaki Karasawa; Günter Schweigert (2010). Systematic List of Fossil Decapod Crustacean Species. Crustaceana monographs. 10BrillISBN 978-90-04-17891-5.
  15. S. Polkowsky (2004). “Decapode Krebse aus dem oberoligozänem Sternberger Gestein von Kobrow (Mecklenburg)”. TassadosSchwerin: privately published. 1: 1–126.
  16. J. Stanley Cobb; Kathleen M. Castro (2006). “Homarus species”. In Bruce F. Phillips (ed.). Lobsters: Biology, Management, Aquaculture and FisheriesJohn Wiley & Sons. pp. 310–339. ISBN 978-1-4051-2657-1.
  17. Gro I. van der Meeren, Josianne Støttrup, Mats Ulmestrand & Jan Atle Knutsen (2006). “Invasive Alien Species Fact Sheet: Homarus americanus (PDF). Online Database of the North European and Baltic Network on Invasive Alien SpeciesNOBANIS.