Coconut Crab (Birgus latro), is known to be the largest terrestrial arthropod in the world. They are large and are edible too. These arthropods are closely related to the hermit crabs and can be found in the Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean. The pincers of these creatures are so strong that they can even break coconut with their pincers. These are one of the most interesting species in their family. It would be interesting to note that, they have a very close relation with the coconuts as their food.
It is named as the "Coconut Crabs" as it can break a coconut with its strong pincers. They have eight legs and the other two legs have claws, which help them to climb a coconut tree. These species can be of tinged red or deep blue. The females of these species have three large feathery appendages to support the eggs. The length of their body can grow up to a size of 40 cm and weigh up to 17 kg. Their body structure resembles to that of an insect as it lives on the land. The young ones use their shell to protect themselves. They also use the broken shell of coconut in their moulting stages. They have an antenna, which consists of aesthetascs and this provides them an excellent sense of smell.
Distribution and Behavior
They are the inhabitants of Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean. They can be found in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Aldabra, Seychelles, GloriosoIslands and Astove Islands. These species can be seen in rock crevices as well as they can live underground. They are also known as thief crabs as they steal pots and silver ware from the houses. The high sense of smell enables them to find rotting fruit or food. They use the husk of the coconut in their burrows for comfortable bedding.
The coconut crabs feed on leaves, fruits, tortoise eggs, etc. In their diet, coconut is considered as their favorite food item. They use their strong claws to make holes in the coconut and cut it in pieces so that it can be eaten easily.
Breeding / Reproduction
The coconut crabs mature, either when they grow up to 3.5 meter in size or when they grow up to age of 5 years. The mating season for these species is between May to September. The male and the female are known to fight during the time of mating. During the mating process the male pushes the female onto her back. After that, it places the sperm-sac over the gonopore of the female. The female holds the eggs for (1 to 2) weeks till it gets fertilized. Moreover, the eggs take (3 to 6) weeks to get mature. When the eggs get transformed into juvenile crab, it leaves secretly for (1 to 2) years in their burrows. They have a life span of around 60 years.