Monday, April 4, 2011

C is for Coconut Crab

No, folks. This is not Photoshopped. That is a giant crab stealing your garbage. But don't worry, this beast is native to islands in the Indo-Pacific region.

The coconut crab, so named because it can crush a coconut with its bare claws, can grow up to three feet wide, including leg span. It is the largest land arthropod, and according to Wikipedia, given today's atmospheric conditions is likely at the size limit for how large an arthropod living on land can grow.

Small comforts, right?

Well, if it makes you feel any better, the coconut crab is predominantly frugivorous, meaning that it isn't just cracking those coconuts to intimidate the humans so keen on driving the poor bugger into extinction. Fleshy fruits are his choice diet, however they will also scavenge on dead animals and pick off slow and weak baby tortoises. They are also keen on stealing shiny objects from people's tents. I haven't found a good reason as to why.

Coconut crabs are nocturnal, living in self-made burrows during the day to protect them from predators (ha!), and lurking the beaches and streets by night.

Well, it turns out these guys are in danger of becoming endangered. Their meat is considered a delicacy, much like lobster is. But who really wants to chase one of these buggers down?

Somehow, this beast is closely related to the hermit crab. You know, that little thing you keep in way-too-small enclosures with sponges, some colored rocks and assorted shells for him to grow into? Baby coconut crabs, with soft shells, will climb into shells of other organisms, and adolescents will use coconut shells to protect their soft abdomens. Adults, when they molt, will stay hidden for up to a month while their exoskeleton hardens.

Coconut crabs have caught on in Japan as popular pets, and guides for their care include how to open their strong pincers if you get pinched (just tickle them and they'll release you, but otherwise they will hold on forever).

Heel, Fido! Get off the neighbor's palm tree!

Images courtesy of


  1. OMG Renee! Either you're awesome for bringing us such new and endangered species... or the coconut crab is.. you choose!

    I skimmed over the pics, because I got terrified...but I hope someone is taking notice of those rare animals and allowing them to live :-/

  2. LOL Ju, well the point is that yes, while these aren't all the most adorable critters on the planet, they are facing the real threat of extinction.

    I promise "E" is going to be a cute one! "D" might be as well, depending on what you find "cute" :)

  3. glad i don't have to deal with those.

  4. OMG that's a crab and a half. Even if it isn't going to attack you, I'm not sure you'd want to meet one on a dark night!

  5. Me again. Renee, I just blogged about your blog!

  6. You're kidding me right? Here I was thinking of soft shell crab sushi and you hit me with these bone-crushing facts and pics. Scary!

    Very smart.

    Thanks for visiting Columbia. D is for ...?

    I've followed you.


    L'Aussies Travel Blog A - Z Challenge Posts

  7. Okay first of all I'm a terrified of spiders. So I if I saw that crab, which looks like a spider's overweight, bullying cousin, my heart my stop. Really. I get jitters thinking about it.
    But this is a nice post, I always like to learn new things. I'm nerdy like that :)

  8. Run for your lives! Holy crab cakes! Really? I guess they move so slow one would be able to skip away from them?
    Stunning! Thank you.
    Maybe they could get him a job opening coconuts at a tiki bar!

  9. They make great pets! Minus the whole deathgrip coconut/head-crushing grip of those ginormous pincers...

  10. I am also absolutely enthralled by anything aquatic based. I really wanted to go into marine biology before deciding on mechanical engineering. crazy switch right? Anyways I've been telling people about these things for a year or two and most don't believe me even after seeing the pics. These things are like the "Thor" of the animal kingdom! Great post!

  11. HOLY CRAP that's frighting. I bet it's yummy though.