The coconut crab, Birgus latro is a ground crustacean. Also called terrestrial hermit crab or thief crab (because the crabs were attracted by bright objects and in more than one occasion he has been caught red-handed taking these objects from nearby houses).
It is the heaviest terrestrial arthropod that exists (the largest crab by length is the Macrocheira kaempferi). Its natural habitat is found in the islands of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. The largest population of these curious crabs is found on Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean.
Its characteristic ability is to open coconuts to feed on them. Thanks to its strong pincers; it is able to penetrate the hard shell of the coconut, also being able to drag objects of up to 30 kilograms.
The coconut crab has developed a special technique to open them: if the coconut still has its outer covering, they will use their tongs to remove it in strips, starting at the point of germination, a group of three small circles in the place where the coconut is fixed to the palm.
Once these pores are visible, the crab hits one of them with its claws until they pierce it. Then they turn and use their small tweezers to extract the pulp from the coconut. Larger crab specimens can also use their larger claws to break the coconut into several pieces and feed more easily.
Coconut crab weighs between 5 to 9 kilograms and its main source of food are coconuts and figs. Although it also occasionally feeds on bird or turtle’s eggs, plants and other animal carcasses. It measures up to 40 cm long and can live for 60 years. The colors of its carapace range from purple and violet to various shades of brown.
Something really curious is that it is only aquatic during the first two months of his life, then becoming completely terrestrial to the point where they are able to drown in the water.
The molt of its shell lasts during the first 30 days, only the youngest specimens use the shells or shells of other animals and sometimes coconut shells to protect their body from the attack of the predators. Since the adult crabs harden his abdominal armor with deposits of calcium and keratin for this purpose, remaining hidden to protect himself.
Due to their poor vision, they detect their enemies by the vibrations of the ground. Young specimens are vulnerable to rats, pigs or ants such as zancona. The only depreters of adults are humans.
Giant coconut crab has an excellent sense of smell and can detect smells that draw his attention to great distances.
Many locals raise and use them as guardians of their coconut plantations. They are considered as a dish by the inhabitants of these areas. They are served and accompanied by coconut milk (curious reverse of the destination). There have been reports of intoxication due to consuming their meat, which may be due to the plants from where these crabs feed.