The white-tipped mud crab is usually found in brackish water, but can also be found in freshwater. It likes to live on stones and in oyster beds. It is a common inhabitant of Texas and Florida estuaries, but was later introduced all over the world. In 1937, Rhithropanopeus harrisii was discovered to be invading the San Francisco Bay's brackish waters and adjacent fresh waters of the California Central Valley. It was also recently discovered in the Third Lock Lake in Panama, a man-made lake intended to be a part of the Panama Canal.
Breeding populations have been found in the Brazos river basin in Texas, notably the Possum Kingdom and Granbury Lakes.