Click here for the page with thumbnails of pictures of Coenobitidae Family

Family : Coenobitidae

     (5 species present in Seychelles)

   Genus : Birgus

     Species : Birgus latro L.

Robber crab

Scientific name :Birgus latro L.
English name :Robber Crab, Coconut Crab
Creole name :Sipay, Krab koko, Bef koko
Family :Coenobitidae
Distribution :
Seychelles Islands :Aldabra, Glorieuse, Astove, Assumption, Cosmoledo (Haig, 1984), extinct on the central islands (eaten)
Worldwide :Worldwide distribution of Birgus latro
East coast of Africa to Line and Gambier Islands (but absent from northern part part of Indian Ocean except Nicobar Islands and South Sentinel in the Andamans, and from western part of Malay archipelago).
Ecology :
Habitat :Supralittoral beach vegetation, coconut groves, and Pandanus thickets (Haig, 1984)
Diet :Fruits, rotting leaves and coconuts. It is often said that he can climb, a tree to cut a coconut, than comes down to open it with his strong chelipeds, but this is not certain, although he can open damaged coconuts. It feeds on a variety of wild and cultivated plant products, as well as on dead and injured animals. In Aldabra it is a scavenger of major importance on the remains of dead tortoises, and it preys on tortoise eggs and hatchlings (Haig, 1984)
Activity :
Burrowing : Hiding in burrows, between tree roots and in holes and crevices in rock, hollows in tree trunks, and in Cardisoma holes, to protect his soft abdomen against desiccation during the day from direct sunlight. Has been observed digging burrows in the sand himself.
Description :
Shells used :shells are only used during juvenile stages, afterwards, there are no shells available which are big enough. Sometimes coconuts are used but eventually they will resort to digging burrows as adults.
Size :Largest land crab in Seychelles
Colour :There are two colour morphs, the black being less common than the red.
Differences in sexes :
Pictures :Robber crabRobber crab
Reproduction :Reproductive cycle of Birgus latro
Fecundicity :mean egg count = 90730

   Genus : Coenobita

     Species : Coenobita brevimanus Dana, 1852

Scientific name :Coenobita brevimanus Dana, 1852Coenobita brevimanus
English name :Hermit Crab
Family :Coenobitidae
Distribution :
Seychelles Islands :Aldabra (Alexander, 1979), Aride (Anderson, 1994), Silhouette (Haig, 1984), Mahe (Glacis, only once) and Petite Soeur (my observations)
Worldwide :East coast of Africa to Line and Tuamotu archipelago (Haig, 1984).
Ecology :
Habitat :Sandy Beaches, on Petite Soeur, at the end of the beach under the vegetation.
Diet :Carnivorous
Activity : nocturnal
Description :bigger hermit crab, body purple to brown
Shells used :Turbo shells, but also coconuts.
Size : Largest of the Coenobita genus. Uses shells up to 80 mm openings
Differences in sexes :
Picture :hermit crab


     Species : Coenobita cavipes Stimpson, 1858

Scientific name :Coenobita cavipes Stimpson, 1858
English name :Hermit Crab
Creole name :
Family :Coenobitidae
Distribution :
Seychelles Islands :Aldabra (Alexander, 1979), Coetivy (my observation)
Worldwide :East coast of Africa to Ryukyu Islands and Bismarck archipelago (Haig, 1984).
Ecology :
Habitat :Sandy Beaches
Diet :Detrivorous
Activity : nocturnal
Description :
Shells used :Nerita, Achatina (giant African land snail)
Size :
Differences in sexes :
Picture :Coenobita cavipes in Achatina shell
Coenobita cavipes in Achatina shell


     Species : Coenobita perlatus H. Milne Edwards, 1837

Scientific name :Coenobita perlatus H. Milne Edwards, 1837
English name :Hermit Crab
Family :Coenobitidae
Distribution :
Seychelles Islands :Aride (Anderson, 1994), and Coetivy (my observation, very common), Aldabra (Beaver, 1991), Amirantes (Haig, 1984)
Worldwide :Madagascar to Line and Gambier islands (Haig, 1984).
Ecology :
Habitat :On the upper side of the beach and between coral stones washed on the beach or under fallen vegetation.
Diet :Detritivorous
Activity :
Description :small terrestrial hermit crabs, with red-orange marks on legs.
Shells used :
Size :
Differences in sexes :
Picture :Coenobita perlata (Coetivy)Coenobita perlata (Coetivy)


     Species : Coenobita rugosus H. Milne Edwards, 1837
Scientific name :Coenobita rugosus H. Milne Edwards, 1837
English name :Hermit Crab
Family :Coenobitidae
Distribution :
Seychelles Islands :Mahé (Anse Intendance, Anse Major), Coetivy (abundant), Aldabra, Cosmoledo, Astove, Amirantes, Farquar (Haig, 1994)
Worldwide :East coast of Africa to Line Islands and Tuamotu archipelago (Haig, 1984).
Ecology :
Habitat :Sandy Beaches, more inland than Coenobita perlatus
Diet :Feeds on both plant and animal matter, on Tortoise faeces, but also on dead tortoises and their stomach contents (on Aldabra), on decaying algae and other organic material along the water line. (Haig, 1984)
Activity : nocturnal
Description :
Colour : Their bodies are whitish with some greyish tingeing over the periopods
Shells used :Nerita sp.
Size :Occupy shells up to 40 mm across
Picture :



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