Wednesday, February 2, 2011

February 2, 2011 : Halloween Crab

Halloween Crab

The halloween crab, Gecarcinus quadratus, also known as the
moon crab, mouthless crab or harlequin land crab, is a colorful land crab from the family Gecarcinidae. It is found in mangrove, sand dunes and rainforest along the Pacific coast from Mexico south to Peru. The taxonomy in relations to the Atlantic Gecarcinus lateralis is disputed, with many considering it and G. quadratus to be conspecific.

In the pet-trade it is sometimes confused with the African Cardisoma armatum (sometimes also referred to as the Moon crab) or the primarily Caribbean Gecarcinus ruricola. Unlike these, G. quadratus combines a pair of largely purple claws, reddish-orange legs, and an almost entirely blackish carapace with a pair of yellow, orange or maroon spots behind the eyes, and an additional pair of whitish spots on the central-lower carapace. Additionally, the name Halloween crab sometimes leads to confusion with the entirely different halloween hermit crab. The carapace of G. quadratus may reach a length of 5 centimetres (2.0 in).

This nocturnal crab digs burrows — sometimes as long as 1.5 metres (4.9 ft) — in the coastal rainforests of Central America, and is common along the coasts of Costa Rica, Panama, and Nicaragua. There it lives in the forest at least some of its adult life, but needs to return to the ocean to breed. The halloween crab is very territorial and will defend itself if threatened. It is largely herbivorous, and consumes leaf litter and seedlings. They will, however, also take animal matter if available.

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