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World’s Largest Crab (9 lb) Climbs Trees

coconut crab
Cute blue coconut crab in Thailand via

Meet the largest land-dwelling anthropoid: the coconut crab. This unique creature has developed some remarkable features and adaptations to survive in its terrestrial environment. It’s a genuinely fascinating species; still, few people are familiar with it. 


world's largest arthropod
The mighty Coconut Carb, Birgus latro, is the largest land-living arthropod. Image via depositphotos

From its peculiar anatomy to its extraordinary abilities to its unusual social behaviors, there are mountains of exciting information to discover about this unique animal! So come along as we delve into the world of coconut crabs and explore their mysterious lives together.

Key Points

the world's largest arthropod
Image via depositphotos
  • Coconut crabs are the largest land-based arthropods, growing up to three feet long and weighing up to nine pounds.
  • They can climb trees and crack open coconuts with their powerful claws.
  • Coconut crabs have a unique strategy for avoiding predators by burying themselves in the sand.
  • Their diet, including coconuts and carrion, can impact food availability for other animals and the ecosystem.
  • Conservation efforts are needed to protect coconut crabs from habitat destruction and overexploitation.

Introducing the Coconut Crab 

the world's largest arthropod
Image via depositphotos

The Coconut Crab (Birgus latro) may seem like something out of a horror movie, but these incredible creatures are genuine. These massive crustaceans can grow up to three feet long and weigh as much as 9 pounds. This impressive size makes them the largest land-based arthropods in the world. 


Coconut crab on Palmyra Atoll. USFWS – Pacific Region, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Palmyra Atoll‎, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Found primarily on islands in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, these crabs live in lush rainforests and along rocky shores. They are known for their ability to crack open coconuts with their powerful claws. Likewise, these crabs are also skilled climbers and scavengers. With their striking appearance and unique habits, it’s no wonder that the Coconut Crab has become a popular topic of fascination among nature enthusiasts and everyday people.

Size and Behavior

coconut crab
A closeup shot of a Coconut crab (Birgus latro, robber crab or palm thief). Image via depositphotos
  • The coconut crab, or the robber crab, is a giant among arthropods. With a leg span of up to three feet, it is the largest land-living arthropod in the world. 
  • This impressive creature can weigh up to nine pounds, and its claws are powerful enough to crack open coconuts, hence its name. Despite their intimidating size, coconut crabs are not aggressive toward humans. 
  • They are shy and nocturnal creatures. While they are not currently considered endangered, their population has been dramatically reduced due to over-harvesting in some areas.
  • These crabs communicate through chemical signals, which they release to mark their territories and attract potential mates. During the breeding season, males engage in fierce battles over females, using their powerful claws to establish dominance.
  • As fascinating as they are, it is best to admire these gentle giants from a safe distance.

Survival Strategies of the Coconut Crab

the world's largest arthropod
Image via depositphotos

Giant arthropods can grow to be the size of a small dog and have powerful claws capable of exerting incredible force. One of the most remarkable things about coconut crabs is their ability to climb trees. Despite their size and weight, they can scale the trunks of palm trees in search of coconuts, which they have a knack for cracking open with their impressive claws. 

Avoiding Predators

Coconut crabs at Bora Bora. The picture is a scan of an old film picture. Brocken Inaglory, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In addition, coconut crabs have a unique strategy for avoiding predators, such as birds and other predators. They bury themselves in the sand, exposing only their eyes, allowing them to blend in with their surroundings and avoid detection. 

The Diet of a Coconut Crab

coconut crab
Image via depositphotos

The coconut crab is a fascinating creature with a special diet that can significantly impact the ecosystem. With a taste for coconuts, fruits, and even carrion, these land-dwelling crabs are known to climb trees and crack open coconuts with their massive claws.

Its Impact on The Ecosystem – The Negatives

coconut crab
Image via depositphotos

While their diet may seem harmless, the coconut crab’s preference for consuming such items can lead to a lack of food availability for other critters. Moreover, coconut crab populations can become so large that they strip entire trees of their fruit, leaving little for birds and other animals to eat. Therefore, it is essential to study the diet of the coconut crab from an ecological standpoint to understand its full impact on the surrounding ecosystem.

Its Impact on The Ecosystem – The Positives

Coconut crabs are known as Robber crabs on Christmans Island. DIAC images, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

That being said, they can also have a positive impact on their ecosystem – their scavenging behavior also helps in keeping the environment clean. They efficiently consume carrion, including dead animals and seabird chicks, which can otherwise become breeding grounds for pathogens and parasites. In this way, the coconut crab helps maintain a healthier ecosystem and minimizes the risk of disease transmission.

Fun Facts About the World’s Largest Arthropod

Coconut crab. fearlessRich, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
  • They have a keen sense of smell, detecting food from long distances.
  • They have a unique ability to crack open coconuts with their powerful pincers.
  • These crabs are excellent swimmers and can survive in both saltwater and freshwater.
  • Coconut crabs have a lifespan of up to 60 years.
  • They have an impressive ability to regenerate lost limbs.
  • Coconut crabs have an amazing climbing speed, capable of reaching up to 10 feet per minute.

Conservation Efforts

coconut crab
Image via depositphotos

Coconut crabs are unique and fascinating species that play an essential role in their ecosystem. Unfortunately, their populations have suffered from habitat destruction, overexploitation for food, and the pet trade. However, there are steps that we can take to help conserve this species.

  • 1. Protect their habitats: Coconut crabs are found in coastal areas within the range of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Conserving their natural habitats will help ensure their populations thrive.
  • 2. Promote responsible fishing practices: Overfishing for food and the pet trade can lead to severe declines in coconut crab populations. Governments and conservation organizations can help by promoting responsible and sustainable fishing practices.
  • 3. Raise public awareness: Educating people about the importance of coconut crabs and the threats they face can help raise awareness and encourage conservation efforts.
  • 4. Conduct research: More research is needed to understand the biology and behavior of coconut crabs, which can help inform conservation strategies.


Coconut crab. Drew Avery, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Thanks for reading this article! If you enjoyed this, you should take a look at this article about the loudest animal, uncover the longest snake in the world, or get to know the Asian elephant.

YouTube video
Coconut Crabs Devour Pig Carcass | Searching For Amelia. Source: Youtube, Uploaded: National Geographic

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