Meet the largest crab species in the world

Image of a coconut crab.

Coconut crab

It is found in just a few places, which are islands and coastal areas.

To find them you will have to go looking at night.

These nocturnal crabs spend the daytime deep in the hollow centers of rotting trees in the dense jungle undergrowth.

Coming out at night, they feed on, yes, coconuts, from which they tear the husks with their mighty pincers, but they also eat a variety of soft green vegetation.

To see this intriguing creature, one must look for the telltale signs of torn husks left at the entrance of black hollows in the rotting trunks of fallen trees.

The islanders explain that during June and July, the crabs burrow into the ground, and there, after shedding their outer casing, they grow a new, larger suit of armor before emerging.

As some coconut crabs live up to 50 years, one can appreciate the huge sizes they can reach.

Some emerging from their burrow, may have a leg with a span of about 20 inches [50 cm].

Sadly, the seeming safety of their molting burrow is no defense against the hunter, who can read the circular depression in the ground that marks the beginning of the burrow.

In no time the defenseless creature is dragged out, destined for the gourmet’s table.

Restaurants in Asia highly prize this crab, especially the meat in its soft, round, vulnerable rear appendage.

So where it is found on Islands, the possibility of the coconut crab’s extinction is a real concern.

Hence, some government fishery departments have sets limits on the number of egg-bearing females and on the size of crab that can be exported.

Some have suggested setting up farms from which the crabs could be released into their natural habitat.

But much research would be needed, as not enough is known about their breeding habits.