Land hermit crab

IDENTIFYING FEATURES

Land hermit crab

Scientific Name: Coenobita cavipes
Common Name: Land hermit crab
Phylum: Arthropoda; Subphylum: Crustacea
Size: Length of first part of cephalo-thorax 30-40mm  

DISTRIBUTION

Found in the Indo-Pacific region including South and East Africa.

HABITAT

They live inland and only go to the beach to breed and wet their bodies. They bury themselves below the high water mark by day and live within gastropod shells.

DIET

Omnivorous. They are generalist feeders and active scavengers.
 

REPRODUCTION AND LIFE CYCLE

Female hermit crabs have gonophores on their fourth pair of legs. Males fertilise the females by passing spermocytes over these gonophores. To do this, they must both partly emerge from their shells. The female then lays eggs and holds them inside her shell using pleopods. The female broods the eggs for approximately a month before returning to the ocean to release the eggs. The eggs burst and release zoea (planktonic larvae). The zoea remain in the plankton for about two months, constantly going through metamorphosis to become a megalopa. The megalopa finds its first shell and lives both on land and in the water for a month before completing its first moult. After the moult the hermit crab emerges as a juvenile and is completely terrestrial.

IMPORTANCE OF HERMIT CRABS

Due to their general scavenging ways and the fact that they are gregarious feeders, they will quickly “clean up” organic waste on the beach, removing the potential for disease.

STOCK STATUS

Unevaluated

SOURCES

Tony Coenobita [2013]  www.tonycoenobita.com/

Hermy – the land hermit crab [2013]  www.hermy.fr/

Marine Invertebrates of Bermuda [2014]  www.thecephalopodpage.org/

Land hermit crab

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