Scyllarus pygmaeus is a species of slipper lobster that lives in shallow water in the Mediterranean Sea and eastern Atlantic Ocean. The common name in English is Pygmy Locust Lobster, in French Cigale Naine and in Spanish Cigarra Enana.
Scyllarus pygmaeus is the smallest slipper lobster species, with a carapace length of 11.5 millimetres for females, and 10 mm for males. The total body length can reach 55 mm, but is typically less than 40 mm. Its small size precludes the Pygmy Locust Lobster from being a target for fisheries. The body of Scyllarus pygmaeus is pale brownish or pinkish with patches of darker hairs.
S. pygmaeus resembles a young individual of Scyllarus arctus, with which it has been widely confused. The two species can be distinguished by a suite of characters:
- The anterior part of the abdominal tergites have a groove lined with hairs in pygmaeus but not in S. arctus.
- arctus has a forward-pointing, pointed tip to the second abdominal sternites, while in S. pygmaeus it is rounded and points backwards.
- pygmaeus has a conical tubercle on the fifth thoracic somite, while the tubercle is compressed rather than conical in S. arctus.
- The sculptured posterior part of the first abdominal somite is wider in the centre than at the edges in pygmaeus, while in S. arctus it is an even width throughout.
The Pygmy Locust Lobster lives at depths of 5–100 metres, where it is nocturnal and at its shallower ranges lives in Posidonia meadows. Females carry eggs in June and August.
This photo was taken inside Billingshurst Cave, near Reqqa Point on Gozo’s north coast.
Photo taken by Brian Azzopardi