Coenobita spinosus

Spinosus, Fiji - Photo Credit - Bernard Roitberg
Spinosus, Fiji – Photo Credit – Bernard Roitberg

Common name: Spinosus or Forest Hermit Crab

Latin Origins: spina meaning thorn

Distribution: Various Polynesian islands, Melanesia, Micronesia, Marianne Islands and the northern coast of Australia (from the various references listed in Gordan, 1956) New Caldonia, Wallis and Futuna

IWP, to be clarified when differences between C. spinosus and C. cavipes become clearer. In South Pacific: NC, W&F, Cook Is, French Polynesia (Austral, Society, Tuamotu Is). Seems to be common in South Pacific islands, although it is rarely recorded. [1]

Habitat: Coastal forests, wetlands and dark forests including low mountains. Sometimes found in wetland cliffs, on beaches, in lagoons or wet vegetation. Climbs trees and is more terrestrial than other species.  Forest dweller who returns to the sea as needed for water replenishment, foraging, mating, spawning.

Lives in wet and dark coastal forests. [1]

Ecology: Mostly nocturnal, supratidal, terrestrial

Characteristics: hairy spines on all legs and chelipeds, more pronounced than the other species of coenobita.

Shield very convex. Ocular penduncles compressed laterally, not cylindrical in cross-section. Outer face of right chela convex, with piliferous tubercles. Dorsal inner margine of both chelae with a brush of setae. P2 and P3 piliferous with lateral crests on meri, and tubercles on distal segments. P2 merus with doral margin carinate; outer face of propodus convex, dorsal margin rounded. Colour black, brown or orange. [1]

Morphologically close to Coenobita cavipes Stimpson, 1858. Characteristics used to identify both species must be redefined. [1]

Common identifiers:

  • Eyes – elongated, stalks same color as body
  • Large claw – No stitch marks
  • Coloring – dark brown, reddish orange to black, very hairy
  • Chirps – it is now believed that all species are capable of chirping but some species appear to be more readily vocal than others. [2]



Preferred shells: Giant terrestrial snail Achatina fulica or fruit shells. Can easily abandon this rudimentary shelter to escape. [1]


Coenobita spinosus_Systematics and Ecology of decapod crustaceans and Stomatopods French Polynesia, Joseph Poupin 2005
Coenobita spinosus_Systematics and Ecology of decapod crustaceans and Stomatopods French Polynesia, Joseph Poupin 2005

Spinosus on flickr

C. spinosus on Instagram

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Photo Credits:

The Crab Street Journal has been granted permission by these photographers to use their photo(s) on our site.

Bdr_dpcove- Bernard Roitberg

Gibbs Jones

Horst Kiechle

John McKean

Pixi Powers – Erin Tomson

Adrian Turner

Jennifer Laver



1. A guide to the decapod crustaceans of the South Pacific by Joseph Poupin, Matthieu Juncker

Coenobita spinosus Gordan, 1956

Dana, 1851

2. Sound production in the lhc C purpureus- Imafuki, M., Ikeda, H.

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