Coenobita Species

The common species of Land Hermit Crabs

 Coenobita clypeatus

Coenobita clypeatus

pronounced:  'seen-oh-bit-a cly-pe-ait-us'

Common name: Caribbean, Purple Pincher or PP

Latin Origins:   clypeatus = shield shaped

Distribution:  From southern Florida to Venezuela, and the West Indian Islands Also Bermuda. The only species in the Western AtlanticChace and Hobbs, 1969; Bright, 1966

Habitat: Two population types; one not more than 15km inland, one closer to shore; at elevations up to 1000 m; dune vegetation; shaded areas with large quantities of leaf litter. Lives throughout the Caribbean and as far north as Florida and Bermuda (Kurta 1982). Spends most of its time in the woods but is known to travel to high sand hills near the shore (Sterrer 1986). Found to travel across many different habitats and have climbed mountains as high as 887 meters (Walker 1994).

Found on tropical and subtropical islands in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans  Coenobita clypeatus is a tropical land hermit crab that lives throughout the Caribbean and as far north as Florida and Bermuda . C. clypeatus spends most of its time in the woods but is known to travel to high sand hills near the shore. Because C. clypeatus has gills it must live in areas of high humidity. However their gills do not allow them to be fully submerged under water because the hermit crabs will drown. C. clypeatus has been found to travel across many different habitats and have climbed mountains as high as 887 meters. In Bermuda these crabs once roamed all over the island but now they are only know to inhabit Hungry Bay a small bay on the south shore of the island.

Ecology: Mostly nocturnal and terrestrial, taking cover under leaf litter and in trees.

Characteristics:Juvenile clypeatus are often pale in color with a brightly colored large claw. As the crab molts and grows it's color becomes a deep, rich red.  At times clypeatus may be dark, almost black depending on their diet.  The granules covering their body are black.  They have tufts of hair on the claws which can be used to bring water to the mouth. They will wear a wide variety of shells.  As the most commonly found species sold as pets they are also the hardiest of the species.

References

Hass 1950; Walker 1994

Kurta 1982

Sterrer 1986

Walker 1994

Burggren, W. W., 1975. Oxygen consumption as a function of body size in a terrestrial hermit crab, Coenobita (Decapoda, Paguridea). Crustaceana 28(3): 314‑316.

de Wilde, P. A. W. J., 1973. On the ecology of Coenobita clypeatus in Curacao, with reference to reproduction, water economy and osmoregulation in terrestrial hermit crabs. Stud. Fauna Curacao 44(144): 1‑138.

Hazlett, B. A., 1966. Observations on the social behavior of the land hermit crab, Coenobita clypeatus (Herbst). Ecology 47(2): 316‑317.

McLaughlin, P. A. & L. B. Holthuis, 2002. Pagurus clypeatus Fabricius, 1787 (currently Coenobita clypeatus; Crustacea, Decapoda): proposed replacement of syntypes by a neotype. Bull. zool. Nomencl. 59(1): 17‑23.

McMahon, B. R. & W. W. Burggren, 1979. Respiration and adaptation to the terrestrial habitat in the land hermit crab Coenobita clypeatus. J. Exp. Biol. 79: 265‑281.

Provenzano, A. J. ,. J., 1962. The larval development ofthe tropical land hermit Coenobita clypeatus (Herbst) in the laboratory. Crustaceana 4: 207‑228.

Watt, E. M., D. W. Dunham & H. Schone, 1985. Climbing orientation and shell asymmetry in a land hermit crab, Coenobita clypeatus (Decapoda, Paguridea). Crustaceana 48: 104‑105.

Chance and Hobbs 1969; Ball 1972; DeWiled 1973; Alexander 1979; Page and Willason 1982; Willason and Page 1983