Land Crab

Common Name: Land Crabs or Tajalines

Family: Gecarcinidae

Range: The natural range of the land crab is throughout the Caribbean Sea, Bermuda, Texas, and southern Florida. In southern Florida, these crabs occur in low-lying areas of coastal counties. They are rarely found more than 5 miles from the coast.They are also available in many places and in national parks of Costa Rica.

Size: The land crab measure about 11 cm (4 inches) across the carapace, or back.

Weight: The adult land crab is having a weight about 0.5kg (18ounces).

Diet: All species land crabs feed on both animal and plant tissues. Oversize land crabs are mainly vegetarians, fruits, berries; prefer tender leaves, flowers and vegetables. Rarely can they eat beetles or other insects.

Average life span: The lifespan of a land crab in captivity is around 13 years. In wild it is an average of 11 years.
Habitat: They live in tropical America, Indo-Pacific region and West Africa. All species lives in fields, swamps, and mangrove thickets. Some break through inland as far as 8 km (about 5 miles). These land crabs are earthly (land-dwelling) and are found as far as 5 miles from the shoreline, return to the sea to drink or breed. They usually live in holes several feet deep or at least to a level where water to seep in for moisture.

Breeding/Reproduction: Land crabs get sexual maturity in about four years. The reproductive activities occur during full moons during summer. After mating, female lays her eggs but carries the egg mass underneath her body for just about two weeks prior to moving to the ocean and releasing their eggs into low inshore waters. A female land crab may produce 300,000 – 700,000 eggs per offspring, but few larvae survive to become small crabs. These larvae are eaten by aquatic animals and fishes. The development process (from larvae to small crab) takes around a month out in the ocean.

Land Crabs belong to the family of Gecarcinidae under the Decapoda order. They are usually terrestrial in nature which means they lived in land, hence the name Land Crab. They are mostly seen inhabiting in West Africa as well as the tropical America including Costa Rica. Also they were endemic in the Indo-Pacific territory. These colorful Land Crabs come up from their underground homes in group at the start of rainy season.

They take a trip from their inland tunnel to the coast where they lay their eggs. They walk in a straight line on their way to the beach, and can pass through your homes or anything else on their way.
Like most species of crabs out there they also have gills. It was covered by a bony protective shield at the back. They are considered as tropical omnivores which mean their diet covers both plants and animals.

These land crabs are divided into 6 taxonomical rank genera.

Cardisoma are mostly endemic in the temperate coastal areas. They usually live in burrows. The adult that belongs to these genera has flat and dull colors. But they were not like these when they were still young. Younger crabs in these species usually have vibrant color from purple-blue protective shield or carapace at the back to their orange-red legs. So when they grow to the adult stage they lose its color. Females possess much dullness in color than the male. These crabs dig up garden soil and eat vegetables. Humans consider them a pest. They are generally herbivores so they primarily eat leaves, berries, fruits, vegetables and flowers. But they also include beetles and insects to their sustenance.

Discoplax are similarly related to the cardisoma. One member of this genus is the Discoplax hirtipes. This type of specie on this genus is usually even and glossy as well as inflated protective back shield. They are mostly bluish to brownish in color. After mating the females will go to the sea to deliver their eggs. Mostly they inhabit the Indo-West Pacific areas.

Epigrapsus are considered omnivores. So they usually eat both plants and animals. They are usually endemic in Nicobar Islands, Sumatra, Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia and Bismarck Archipelago.

Gecarcinus are often found in the forests but they will migrate to the coast to mate and release its eggs. Their activities are mostly determined by climate. If it is humid and summer they were mostly inactive but if its rainy season they will migrate. They are mostly found in Christmas Island as well as Cocos Island in the Indian Ocean. Also one species of these genera lives in Indo-Pacific Areas.
Gecarcoidea lalandii physical attributes is their dark purple color.

They also have elongated legs and short pincers. They are considered as nocturnal in nature which means they do their activity like feeding during night time. After mating females go to the coast to let go its eggs in the water. They are mostly found in forests and sometimes in an open field.

Johngarthia usually inhabit the Eastern Pacific Ocean to Cocos Island in Costa Rica, Southern Atlantic Ocean and Eastern Atlantic Ocean.

Land crabs are shy by nature and do not pose any threat to humans unless caught. Then they are talented of inflicting an unforgettable pinch. The most strange features of this giant land crab is, its burrowing conduct, also makes it an irritation to humans living very close to the shore. The adult land crab will dig burrows 3 to 5inches (8 to 13cm) wide and to a depth of 5ft (1.5m). These burrows could damage the gardens and lawns. You can not Control these crabs by chemical as it is dangerous to humans and the environment and the possible negative effects on quality of groundwater.

On June 20, 2011, A news in the local newspaper was published that A new species of large land crab was discovered on Cocos Island in Costa Rica,

University researchers from Costa Rica and the U.S.A. discovered this new species on the Pacific Ocean Island and named “Johngarthia cocoensis,” This has unique characteristics, according to the researchers. This land crab are large size, a male can measure 40 cm (15.7 inches) with their front legs extended (females are smaller). These crabs live in holes dug into the soil and eat mainly seeds and grasses.

Robert Perger and Rita Vargas from the University of Costa Rica and Adam Wall from the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum are credited with discovering the new land crab species. J. cocensis resembles the J. malpilensis crab, which lives on nearby islands.

The similarity with other species in the western Pacific indicates that larvae (that develop in the sea) It is believed that they may have crossed to Cocos Island by sea currents, and then adapted to the habitat to grow into a new species.

Cocos Island is placed off the coast of Colombia but within the territorial waters of Costa Rica and it is the only island in the Western Pacific that has a humid tropical forest climate and a wide variety of land crab species.

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