Coenobita Species

The common species of Land Hermit Crabs

Coenobita compressus

Coenobita compressus

Common name:  Ecuadorian or E

Latin Origins:  compress

Distribution: West coast of America from Mexico (Lower California) to Chile. Only species definitely known from American West Coast, and restricted to this coast. Records from the Indo-West Pacific are misidentifications 

Habitat  Up to 1 km inland, mostly within 100 m of shore; sandy beaches, moist, heavily vegetated. 


Characteristics:  Juvenile compressus are often green or blue and the big pincher is tan. Legs often have dark stripes and the tips will begin to turn tan.  As compressus grows its color becomes rich oranges and browns.  The big pincher has noticeable stitch marks. They eyes are elongated.  Compressus are notorious for being very picky about shells as they like a D shaped opening.  This is the smallest of the species and does not grow much bigger than a ping pong ball.  Several hermit crab owners  have noted this species has a specific molting difficulty which causes them to become trapped in their exo, unable to fully shed and there for dying.


Abrams, P., 1978. Shell selection and utilization in a terrestrial hermit crab,
Coenobita compressus
(H. Milne Edwards). Oecologia 34: 239-253.

Ball, E. E., 1972. Observation on the biology of the hermit crab, Coenobita compressus H. Milne Edwards (Decapoda; Anomura) on the west coast of the Americas. Rev. Biol. Trop. 20(2): 265-273.

Brodie, R. J., 1999. Ontogeny of shell-related behaviors and transition to land in the terrestrial hermit crab Coenobita compressus H. Milne Edwards. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 241: 67-80. 

Brodie, R. & A. W. Harvey, 2001. Larval development of the land hermit crab Coenobita compressus H. Milne Edwards reared in the laboratory. J. Crust. Biol. 21(3): 715-732.

Thacker, R. W., 1998. Avoidance of recently eaten foods by land hermit crabs, Coenobita compressus. Anim. Behav. 55(2): 485-496.

Thacker, R. W., 1996. Food choices of land hermit crabs (Coenobita compressus H. Milne Edwards) depend on past experience. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 199: 179‑191.