Palm thief (coconut crab) photo and description of a crustacean, meaning in nature | Presentation and message

Palm thief (lat. Birgus latro) is a decapod mollusk, the largest representative of arthropods.

Outwardly, due to its large size, it resembles a crab. Its claws are quite impressive in size, they can even harm a person. However, the palm thief is not an aggressive animal towards humans. Prefers to hunt in the evening or at night. Feeds on small animals, including birds. It is also called the thief crab or coconut crab.

What does it look like

Very large size, about 40 cm long, weighs up to 4 kg.

The cephalothorax is united, pairs of legs are located on it. The front pair is the largest, consisting of powerful claws. At the same time, they have different sizes, the right one is much smaller than the left one. With the help of a second pair of legs, a little less powerful, the crayfish climbs a tree. Thanks to the front pair of legs, he can easily drag objects that are 10 times heavier than himself. Well-developed exoskeleton and fully functioning lungs. Cancer lives on land. The structure of the lungs is unique, they consist of a tissue similar to that of the gills, while the palm thief absorbs oxygen while in the air. In addition to the lungs, the respiratory system is equipped with gills. However, they are not developed and do not allow living in water. At the beginning of life, the palm thief lives in the aquatic environment, growing up, losing the ability to swim. Due to powerful claws, it is very similar to a crab.

On the head is a specialized organ with antennas that allow you to determine and capture the direction of the smell and calculate the distance to the source.

The life span is quite long, up to 30-40 years, there are cases when crabs lived for about 60 years.

Where does it live

The coast of Africa in the western part and South America are the habitat of cancer. As a home, the palm thief chooses the islands:

  • Zanzibar;
  • Me you;
  • Sulawesi;
  • Oceania;
  • Hainan.
  • Most representatives of this species can be found on the small island of Christmas. This place is densely populated with crayfish, which are found almost everywhere.

    As a habitat, the palm thief chooses exceptionally warm tropical islands. Cancer does not like being close to a person, being afraid of him, therefore he prefers secluded islands, including uninhabited ones.

    Their burrows are on the shore, they choose coral rocks and rock crevices as their homes.

    What does it eat

    The palm thief is also called the coconut crab. He received such a name not because he could climb into the palm tree, cut off the coconut and eat it. And due to the fact that crayfish use coconuts that have fallen to the ground as food, eating their pulp. He breaks the fallen coconuts with the help of claws, takes the rest home.

    They feed on coconut fruits, crustaceans, reptiles, rodents, small animals. Cancer is quite omnivorous, it does not eat only poisonous living creatures. It hunts with claws, but the olfactory receptors are its main tool for hunting. With their help, he overcomes small, not very fast prey. The olfactory organs help to feel food, even if it is many kilometers away. Within a radius of up to 3 km, he smells meat, good-smelling fruits. His phenomenal charm protects from hunger, allows you to accurately find food.

    In addition, it can eat carrion and detritus, as well as turtle and rat meat. Very stored and practical, the remnants of prey dragging into a hole and eats as necessary. He is able to lift a load exceeding his own weight in tens of kilograms.


    Prefer nocturnal, they stay in their burrow when not hunting. A burrow can be a natural shelter, or made by him. Coconut fiber is an indispensable element of the home, providing the necessary level of humidity. The animal lives near the water, cannot live in the aquatic environment, sometimes it comes to the reservoir in order to moisten.

    A young crayfish settles in a shell left by another mollusk. When he grows up he leaves her.

    The palm thief loves to climb a tree. Due to strong limbs, this process is quite easy and fast. A coconut crab can fall from a great height, but it won’t cause him any trouble. A palm thief spends a long part of the night time, hunting or eating food, in the evening and in the morning a crab sits on a tree.

    Way to travel

    They move backwards on land, but descend from a tree by moving their heads forward.

    Social life

    They prefer a solitary lifestyle, meet with a partner only during the breeding season.

    How it breeds

    They breed from early to late summer. The male takes care of the female for a long time, then the individuals mate. Then the female waits for good weather and rushes to the water 3 months after mating. Water is needed in order to release eggs, from which larvae hatch in the future. The female waits for the tide to lay her eggs so that they are not carried back to land. A month later, larvae emerge from the eggs, which rush to the seabed, where they find a temporary home in the form of a shell. Over time, their pulmonary system develops, and they can go to land.

    Subject to frequent molting, they form a new exoskeleton each time, eating the old one. Grow quite slowly, only at 5 years are considered sex.


    The palm thief should be wary of:

  • feline.
  • Birds (kite, eagle, kestrel).
  • Crab larvae can be eaten by mammals and fish. The most dangerous enemy is considered to be a person who eats delicious delicious crab meat.

    Kite the enemy of the palm thief


    The coconut crab is not listed in the Red Book or the list of endangered species. However, local authorities keep a constant record of the number of individuals on the islands. Recently, there has been a strong decrease in the number of animals caused by active trapping. Crayfish meat has become a real delicacy due to its great resemblance to lobster meat. The cost of meat is quite high, in view of the fact that it is classified as an aphrodisiac, it is rich in protein and easily digestible.

    Some countries impose restrictive measures on trapping, or completely prohibit it. This breeds smuggling and illegal unregulated trapping.

    Interesting Facts

    1. Palm thief is the largest ground crustacean on land.
    2. The shell has an unusual red or sky blue color. The color scheme is represented by bright red, turquoise, blue.
    3. Are hermits.
    4. Possessors of a super strong sense of smell. Brain activity is 40% dependent on information coming from olfactory receptors.
    5. The claw has unreal squeezing power. No other animal on earth has this ability. He has the most powerful pair of claws among all representatives of crustaceans.
    6. The coconut crab was first described by the legendary biologist Charles Darwin.
    7. Prefer a solitary lifestyle.
    8. Their meat is considered a great delicacy.
    9. They can pose a great danger to both humans and representatives of the animal world.
    10. Caught in the water, an adult crab can drown.
    11. Over the past half century, the number of crabs has decreased by 30%. Significant legislative action is needed in the habitats of crayfish, which will increase their population and regulate trapping. Pregnant females and large adults need protection especially.
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