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Land Hermit Crabs and Coconut Crabs (the world’s largest) as Pets

Coconut CrabHello, Frank Indiviglio here.  People are often surprised to learn that Land or Terrestrial Hermit Crabs engage in complex social behaviors, are capable of communicating via “chirps” and, with proper care, may live for over 20 years.  I’ve had the pleasure of working with them at home, in zoos and the wild, and have even kept the massive, awe-inspiring Coconut Crab.  Please read on to learn about their care and natural history, and be sure to post your own thoughts and experiences.

Natural History

The Purple-Pincher or Caribbean Hermit Crab (Coenobita clypeatus) is the most common pet trade species.  It ranges throughout the Caribbean, reaching as far north as Florida and Bermuda. 

Some populations live at altitudes of over 3,000 feet, but females return to the sea, usually in one massive migration, to spawn. The larvae, or zoea, float about with plankton for 2 months, after which they take up life on land. Read More »

Hermit Crab Social Behavior – Not Such “Hermits” After All!

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.  Researchers at Tuft’s University and the New England Aquarium have uncovered an amazing example of social behavior among the common pet trade Terrestrial or Land Hermit Crab (Coenobita clypeatus).

Crab Real Estate Markets

Congregation of Hermit Crabs in St. ThomasHermit Crabs protect the soft parts of their bodies by moving into the discarded shells of snails and other creatures.  Finding the right-sized home is a matter of life and death, as shell-less crabs are quickly eaten by predators.  It is also a constant concern for the crabs – as they grow, they need to find increasingly larger shells. 

Deprived of shells, the crabs will try anything – one researcher described as “pathetic” their attempts to shelter within bottle caps and pen tops! Read More »

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