Christmas Island red crab is the most prominent large crab species that mainly shine red. However, Other colors, such as purple and orange, are also present in them.
Land crabs breathe through their gills to breathe and keep away from sunlight so they don’t dry out.
The red crabs almost have no comparison for food and other resources due to their presiding of the forest floor.
Classification and scientific name:
The Christmas red crab is known by their scientific name Gecarcoidea natalis. This name originates from the Greek word which means “earth”. Natalis is the Latin word for “birthday”, related to Christmas, the birthday of Christ.
The Christmas crabs are larger species with a shell of nearly five inches in size and a weight over a pound. They can grow up to 116mm. Most crabs are brilliant, eye-catching red, orange and purple.
As the order Decapoda shows, the crabs have ten legs. The eight are smaller, and four are on each side of the shell. Two of the front legs have developed into large claws known as chelae. The chiles are the same size until one is lost and regrown. Females have smaller chelas than males. The female’s abdomen is also broader than the male’s.
Christmas Island red crab grow steadily, reaching up to 40mm in carapace after four to five years. They become sexually mature at this stage and start to participate in breeding. They start moulting regularly in the early phases of their life.
Distribution and Diet: Christmas Island Red Crab
The Christmas Island crabs are omnivores and mostly eat everything they can find, including carrion, fruit, seeds and human trash. They live on Christmas and coco island, which is included in Australia. These islands are small, and there are 44 to 50 million crabs, most found on Christmas Island.
The red crabs live in their caves and rainforest habitat in the dry season. The environment of their habitat is moist for an animal that cannot stay dry out. Sometimes, it will plug up the door of its burrow with vegetation or soil. The crabs also moult in the safe place, which is their burrow.
Unlike some fossorial animals, the Christmas Island red crab uses and maintains the same burrow for as long as five years. The leaf litter around the entrance creates a favourable area for plants to germinate. The crabs dropping also provide fertilizer. This is how it contributes to its Island ecosystem.
Predators and prey:
There are many species of red crabs, so it cannot be said that the species has natural predators. But sometimes, coconut crabs capture and eat them. Christmas red crabs’ babies are primarily selected for prey. When they are part of the zooplankton, some filter feeders eat them. All kinds of birds and fish eat tiny crab babies.
The yellow is an aggressive species that does not bite and sting; they occupy the crab’s burrows and swamp the hole with formic acids. When the crab dies, the ants eat it.
The Christmas Island red crabs’ migration begins with the season’s first rainfall. This is done from October to November but sometimes from December to January.
Red crabs quit their habitat and start marching the ocean to reproduce and spawn. Male crabs migrate and are met by females along the way.
The phase of the moon sets the perfect timing of the migration. Red crabs spawn before the crack of dawn on a high tide. However, crabs wait until the first rainfall to begin their journey. They move fast if the rain comes close to the optimal spawning day.
But if the rain arrives early, they stop eating and drinking on the coast. If rain is too late to make the spawning date, crabs live in their caves and migrate in the next month.
Reproduction and Lifespan:
The Christmas Island red crabs have reproduced millions around the world. In the rainy season, the solitary crabs leave their burrow and go towards the ocean. Even if it is a land crab, it must lay eggs in the water. This way, crabs go to the coast of Christmas and Cocos Island. This can take a week.
The male crabs reach first and dig the burrow, and the females unite them later. After mating, the male leaves the caves. The female produces eggs and keeps them in a pouch in her abdomen for two weeks. Then, before laying eggs, the female quits the burrow and lays eggs in water.
After hatching, the larvae meet the clouds of plankton in the oceans. It takes one month to develop into megalopae, then tiny crabs if they are present. They leave the water and go towards the centre of the Island. They hide under rocks, leaf litter, and tree branches.
The average lifespan of the Christmas Island red crabs is 20 to 3 years.
Can you eat Christmas Island red crabs? Christmas Island Red Crab
You cannot eat red crabs. They do not come in a variety of edible crab species. The meat of the red crabs contains 96% oceanic water, so it has no good flavour to be thought about safe for us. Their flesh is white and has a unique red pigment on the body, the same as lobsters.
Christmas Island red crabs and humans:
The Christmas Island red crabs move through the road during their early years of migration. They have a hard exoskeleton which may prick wheels, and they can be killed if they are pressed down by the vehicles. They have barriers to save themselves from passages and bridges.
The Christmas Island red crabs are protected by law, and people have more awareness of this situation. The drivers take care of the crabs during the migration period.
The Christmas Island red crabs are unique species but are not edible. They have special features as they migrate in the specific season for mating. The rainy weather is necessary for them to migrate.
These crabs have a carapace of about 4.6 inches wide and weigh about 17 inches.
They live lonely and care for their burrows if any other red crabs occupy them.