Curious, Climbing Crab

Last year this giant land crab (Cardisoma guanhumi) decided to check out “higher ground” and clambered up the railing to our first floor.  Also known as the Great Atlantic land crab, these semi-terrestrial crabs live in burrows — crab holes — that they exit sideways …

So, the size of the hole is indicative of the size of the crab.  An adult male crab can grow to be 6″ across.

Giant land crabs holes are quite prevalent along the moist hammock loop trail at the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area, where they can readily burrow  down to the water table.  These crabs will travel to the Indian River Lagoon to spawn, and crabs living on Orchid Island (a.k.a the barrier island) will head to the Atlantic ocean to spawn.

Juvenile crabs are quite colorful:  Dark brown, purple, and orange.  Adult crabs are bluish-gray.  A crab reaches sexual maturity in 4 years.  Egg-bearing females are often, but not always, light gray or whitish in color, as was our welcome visitor.

Click here to view a giant land crab on the beach getting ready to release her eggs taken by wildlife photographer Bob Montanaro.

According to the University of Florida, a female crab will release 300,000 to 700,000 eggs over 1-2 days, within 1 or 2 days of a full moon.  The spawning season is from June through November, peaking in October and November.

These crabs can be quite adventuresome and quite feisty …

She posed — and pondered — for quite awhile, before deciding to climb down the railing.

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