Coconut crab hanging onto a wood log behind a small palm frond

Coconut crab

A colossal crab

Type

beetle

Arthropods

Area

Pacific Islands Oceania

Pacific Islands

facts

size
3 feet wide
adult, leg tip to leg tip
A soccer ball is 9 inches high.
Coconut crab compared in size to a soccer ball
food
fruit
carrion, nuts, seeds
Omnivore
omnivore

Coconut meat is also a food source for the coconut crab.

habitat
beaches
Beaches

description

Coconut crab hanging onto a wood log between bamboo stalks

A name that fits

This crab’s name comes from its looks and diet. The brown and green colors of a coconut crab’s shell help it blend in when it climbs palm trees to get coconuts to eat. This crab’s pinchers are strong enough to clip a coconut from the tree stem and crack into the shell.

Juvenile coconut crab with shell on back

Check that shell

Coconut crabs are related to hermit crabs, and they act like it when they’re young. Because its shell is thin and soft when it is small, a juvenile coconut crab wears an empty seashell or coconut husk on its back. As the crab grows, its shell becomes thicker and harder—a super suit of armor!

quiz

These crabs are nocturnal. During the day they rest in:
burrows
trees