Marine Biology

Crab Profile Soldier Crab

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Soldier crab is not a name used to describe one specific species of crab; it is rather a generic name used to account for several species of crabs and crustaceans from around the world.  These include the pagarus bernhardus, a European hermit crab; the coenobite clypeatus, a Caribbean hermit crab and the dotilla myctiroides, which is a true crab from South-east Asia.  It also covers several species of mictyris.  This is a genus of crab from Indo-West Pacific.

Caribbean hermit crabs have distinctive purple claws.  Their diet is varied as they eat on faeces of other animals, plant remains and animal remains.  The female crabs release their fertilized eggs into the ocean on specific nights; usually around August time.  Their habitat is different to that of many other crabs as they burrow under the roots of large trees.  This species of crab is one of only two sold as pets in the USA.  

The mictyris crab is a genus of crabs that are brightly coloured.  They live in groups of thousands on beaches or mud flats.  During high tide they bury themselves in the sand.  They also do this when threatened.  During low tide, they come to the surface in their groups.  When these crabs dig into wet sand, they do so in a corkscrew fashion that leave little mounds of sand on the surface as evidence of there whereabouts. 

The European hermit crab is found in both rocky and sandy places.  Although referred to as the European hermit crab and mainly living along Europe’s Arctic coast, this crab lives in an area as vast as from Iceland to Russia.  This crab measures approximately 3.5 centimetres and is also called the common hermit crab.  Though they are usually found in the shallow rock pools, they have been found to depths of one hundred and forty metres. 

The eastern Australian species of soldier crab, mictyris longicarpus, is another variety of soldier crab that is specific to this area.  This is a smaller variety of crab, measuring on average between 12 millimetres to 25 millimetres in both length and width, although some have been known to exceed this size.  One of its most distinctive features is that it has a light blue shell that has an aqua tinge to it.  They feed on debris from dead organisms and are the prey of larger animals, such as some birds.  These crabs travel in large groups and walk forwards rather than sideways like other crabs.

More about this author: Elizabeth Nuttall

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