Live crab vending machine

This live hairy Shanghai crab vending machine keeps the crabs at 5° C, at which temperature the poor crustaceans go into hibernation. If you give it some money and it dispenses a dead crab, the machine's owner will give you three free live crabs by way of compensation. The machine is in Nanjing, and represents a major push in the always-complex business of live-crab vending.

Vending Machine Sells Live Crabs (via DVICE)


  1. We used to have live lobster vending machines in Japan. Think I still have some video of me trying it about 10 years ago (interrupted by the store owner who wanted to know why we were filming). Not sure what I’d have done if I’d won.

  2. This would be more entertaining if it was a claw machine reaching into an aquarium. Maybe I should patent that idea?

    1. Ah…perhaps take it a step further. Bring the hunt and capture of smaller animals to the same level as big game! Participants are strapped into a control chair and manipulate a small robot face-to-face with their would-be prey. The robot senses attacks from the animal and applies proportionate damage to the hunter. The small prey animal has an approximately equal chance of killing the hunter, much like the jungle safaris of old.

      1. Regarding hunting ‘small game’, check out the YA novel “Bug Park” by James P. Hogan.

        In the novel, the main character and his friends teleoperate micromanipulators, RC planes, and the like, and go hunting centipedes in the back yard. I’ve always thought this would be the next step beyond Battlebots, once the hardware prices come down.

    2. Some seafood restaurants have the “claw game” in theirlobster and crab tanks… you catch it, they cook it, you eat it…

  3. The bar down the road has the lobster crane game being mentioned.
    I got a phone pic of it because i was a little shocked (

    The living conditions looked slightly worse than what you would encounter in the barren food store tanks.

    If you catch one, they will cook it up for you free of charge.

    I watched one mildly drunk girl catch 2 of them with the intent of using them for a meal, but then in her haze, she decided they were pets. I think her friends told her they were set free while the staff put the lobsters back in.

    1. As they should.

      Lobster are great little creatures (although that’s not really relivant when it comes to mistreating animals), and this is pretty sick.

      Humanity confuses me sometimes.

  4. This is horrible, really unnatural. It’s amazing that people are so detatched as to not realise that this is actually a live animal.

    1. Wow , I thought you were kidding. But you’re not kidding.
      Also, at about 2:53 there are some coolers with pictures of cobras on them. What’s with that? I’m hoping that’s just a brand logo.

  5. I used to date a live crab vending machine. All I had to do was buy her a few drinks, get her in the sack, and voila! Crabs!

  6. Cheap prank vending machine! *slides crab in a box through women’s restroom door*

    Probably the fastest way for peta members to get these removed from public.

    1. I’m not a vegan but this seems cruel but I’m not surprised its in China. Where nearly every living thing is considered a delicacy or to be killed for some sort of medical benefit BS.
      For example the Horseshoe crab is considered a delicacy in China but in the West they investigate the their blue blood can be used for bacteria detection.

  7. Cory, at least they’re being honest and upfront about what the customer is getting. I’m more offended by mechanically separated chicken meat that is processed, formed into pellets aka “nuggets,” and then advertised via that orange-haired clown.

    From the animal’s viewpoint, the industrial chicken farms providing the grist for the above mentioned synth food, are more disturbing than the treatment the crabs are enduring, and these farms are reluctant, for good reason, to show videos of what they do.

    I’d feel safer picking up a live crab, a banana and a pack of smokes on my way home from the train station.

  8. While I was in Connecticut, we went to a fishing store that had a “Live Bait” vending machine outside the entrance. Live Bait 24/7, just in case you have the desire to go fish at 3am Sunday morning. There were crabs, worms, dew worms and a few others I think. I got a picture of it somewhere, I’ll look for it.

  9. There are live bait vending machines in the US and have been for decades.

    Just google live bait vending machines.

  10. Good to know that other people have seen the Lobster claw machine. I remembered seeing one when I was a kid in Japan, but I thought that my memory was playing tricks on me. Guess it was true.

  11. I grew up in Eugene Oregon and for a time (like 1986) this video game arcade on the U of O campus – ‘Hallie’s Comet’ had a remote-operated claw game where you would insert a token (bought at the desk for 10$ or was it 5$?) and use this padded remote control claw to attempt to pick up and catch a live kitten, then try to put it in the hopper. If you caught the kitten you had the option of keeping it, though many people simply had them put it back. It was bizarre.

    They eventually got rid of it because apparently the mechanism was temperamental and the manufacturer was overseas and didn’t offer the best tech support.

    The graphics screen printed on the exterior of this game were hilarious. They looked a lot like the cartoon LOL cats we see today, but the captions were in Japanese so I don’t know what they said. The tinny, synthesized cat and kitten noises the machine made were crazy. I really wish I had pics of this, though I’m certain they exist.

    I wish could find a machine like this for cheap in a barn or something. It would be well worth restoring. Maybe use it at a Humane-Society fund-raiser, you know, along with the adoption-packet they give you, you’d get a video of you hunting and capturing your kitteh.

  12. I was in Shanghai last year during hairy crab season and my local colleagues were nuts about the little things.

    I had a hard time trying to explain to them that back in California they are considered a pest and sometimes ground up for fertilizer.

    I found them to be kind of tasteless and no comparison to the wonderful dungeness crab.

  13. I don’t understand folks who are horrified. Crabs are food, what’s the big deal? I think they are just squeemish. Imagine their reaction if they had to catch and kill cows for their steaks and hamburgers!

    1. This is just sick. Im not a big fan of PETA but this is generally evil. Its not enough that they are boiled alive, but now they spend their lives not being able to move. Its not like we need crab in our diet, or any meat (as im veggy and havnt died yet, according to everyone who says we need meat to survive), and crabs are declining drastically in numbers, as is most of our fish stock anyway. And for the guy who said “whats the big deal, crabs are food”, i mean, seriously, are you retarded? Does that mean we should purposley skin cows and pigs alive because their just food. The differance is that they have nervous systems, meaning they feel pain, if you inflicting pain to suit your psychological needs you have big fucking issues. But back onto the topic, im generally not seeing how this isnt legal, this is probably worse treatment of animals than in the dark ages for god sake.

  14. I never thought I see a crustaceans vending machine .
    For me this is cruel but leaving aside what I think about of cruelty with which they are treated these crabs.
    I think it’s an innovative idea benefiting both the consumer and the providers of the product .with this machine the providers do not have to pay a group of merchants that offered their product and the consumers can buy the product at any time in places that usually they are visited on the day.
    I think this is a good way to trade for people who are dedicated to this business.

  15. It is cruel because who knows how long they will be stuck in a little plastic pouch waiting to be dispensed and then finally put out of their misery! I don’t know if animals experience claustrophobia, but dang, that makes me get a little anxious just looking at it! I realize they are animals and they will be eaten, but why drag out their misery?

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