The Coconut crab

March 13, 2009 at 8:41 pm (Uncategorized)

Two large coconut crabs climbing on a tree By Mila Zinkova CC-BY-SA

Two large coconut crabs climbing on a tree

The coconut crab (Birgus latro) is the largest arthropod that lives on land.  These giants can grow big, up to 16 inches and weigh up to 9 pounds, with a leg span of 3 feet.  They an live to be more than 30 years old.  The female coconut crab carries fertilized eggs under her body for a few months, then when it is type for them to hatch, releases them into the ocean at high tide.  The larva swim freely in the ocean for 28 days then live on the ocian floor for another 28 days, living in abandoned shells (like hermit crabs).  After that, they leave the ocean for good and live on dry land.  As the get older, their abdomen hardens and they no longer need the protection of shells.

The crabs eat nearly anything organic, primarily they eat coconuts and figs but will also eat leaves, dead animals, slow living animals, and the shells (to provide calcium).

Coconut crabs live near the Indian Ocean and central Pacific Ocean particularily on islands such as Christmas Island, the Seychelles Islands, the Cook Islands, and Palmerston Island.

More info at Wikipedia

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