Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Wednesday Wildlife - The Caribbean hermit crab

A live land hermit crab photographed in the Liverpool Museum. (I point out it is alive because there are, of course, a lot of set specimens of things at the museum.)

The Caribbean hermit crab (Coenobita clypeatus), also known as the West Atlantic crab, the tree crab, the soldier crab, and the purple pincher (due to the distinctive purple claw), is a species of land hermit crab native to the west Atlantic, Bahamas, Belize, southern Florida, Venezuela, the Virgin Islands, and the West Indies.

This species is one of the two land hermit crabs commonly sold in the United States as a pet, the other being the Ecuadorian hermit crab. In captivity they can live to be over 30 years old (and over 40 years in exceptional cases).

Although these hermit crabs live on land, they have gills, rather than lungs. The high relative humidity of their native environments, plus water carried in the shell, allows their modified gills to remain wet and thus to function properly in extracting oxygen from the air.

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