Coenobita perlatus is found in the Indo-Pacific from the Islands of Aldabra, Mauritius, and Seychelles through Samoa. These areas are located in the south central Pacific Ocean about 1,600 miles northeast of New Zealand, north of Madagascar and directly above the 10 degree latitude line. (Ingle, 1993)
Biogeographic Regions: ethiopian (Native ); australian (Native ); oceanic islands (Native ); indian ocean (Native ); pacific ocean (Native )
- Reay, P.J. & J. Haig (1990). Coastal hermit crabs (Decapoda: Anomura) from Kenya, with a review and key to East African species. Bulletin of Marine Science 46(3): 578-589 http://www.marinespecies.org/aphia.php?p=sourcedetails&id=5917
- McLaughlin, P.A.; Hogarth, P.J. (1998). Hermit crabs (Decapoda: Anomura: Paguridae) from the Seychelles. Zool. Verh. 318: 3-48. http://www.marinespecies.org/aphia.php?p=sourcedetails&id=42310
- Poupin, J., 2010. - Biodiversité de l’Indo-Pacifique tropical français : 2514 espèces de crustacés décapodes et stomatopodes. Rapport scientifique de l'Institut de Recherche de l'Ecole Navale, Octobre 2010, 76 pp. http://www.marinespecies.org/aphia.php?p=sourcedetails&id=147708
Coenobita perlatus are approximately 80mm long and 80g in body mass. They occupy the multicolored discarded shells of gastropods in order to protect their soft, coiled abdomen and inner organs such as the liver and gonads. These land hermit crabs are decapods, which means they have 10 legs (5 pairs): The first pair is modified as the claws or chelipeds (pinchers), and two pairs of legs are used for walking. The next pair, the claws, are used for defense and transporting food and water to the their mouth. The last two pairs are highly modified but are used more for cleaning than holding on to the shell. When walking, these crabs drag their shells along, but despite this burden, they can run quickly. Each C. perlatus has a loosely fitting carapace that covers the forepart of the body. Coenobita perlatus prefer shells that fit snugly in order to prevent evaporation of moisture and to protect their soft abdomens. Coenobita perlatus have four antennae that help them to sense their surroundings. They have shown some geographic physical variation, but this variations have not been studied in depth.
Male and female C. perlatus can only be distinguished when they are out of their shells. Both the female and male genital pores are located on the coxal ventral surface of each pereiopod (on an appendage of one of the first five abdominal segments), and a long coxal tube (an extension of a pereiopod which is joined broadly to lateral margins of tergites) is present in the male.
(Hazlett, 1998, Burggren, 1988, Veltman, 1997)
Average mass: 80 g.
Average length: 80 mm.
Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; heterothermic ; bilateral symmetry
Sexual Dimorphism: sexes shaped differently
Coenobita perlatus are found living near coastal shorelines. Coenobita perlatus require regular access to the sea or water of high salinity. They are never far from shore or adjacent dunes, and have been found in tidal pools, sandy areas, and humid areas with dune vegetation. Migration occurs from the dune areas to the sea when C. perlatus need to release their eggs into the water or are in need of water to maintain their body moisture. (Hazlett, 1998, Burggren, 1988, Veltman, 1997)
Habitat Regions: tropical ; terrestrial ; saltwater or marine
Terrestrial Biomes: desert or dune ; forest ; scrub forest
Aquatic Biomes: coastal
Other Habitat Features: intertidal or littoral
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 1 sample.
Depth range (m): 2253 - 2253
Temperature range (°C): 2.059 - 2.059
Nitrate (umol/L): 34.704 - 34.704
Salinity (PPS): 34.748 - 34.748
Oxygen (ml/l): 3.332 - 3.332
Phosphate (umol/l): 2.389 - 2.389
Silicate (umol/l): 140.785 - 140.785
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.
Known as "garbage collectors of the seashore," Coenobita perlatus individuals are scavengers, eating a variety of dead and rotting material found along the seashore. These crabs, in general, do not fight over food and can often go long periods of time without food or water. Most C. perlatus carry water in their shells, which the use for breathing and as a water source when they are far from the sea. (Ingle, 1993)
Animal Foods: carrion
Other Foods: detritus
Primary Diet: carnivore (Scavenger ); detritivore
Life History and Behavior
Communication and Perception
Coenobita perlatus have been observed communicating to one another by making sounds referred to as chirping. They use their antennae to sense smells and have excellent vision. They are also sensitive to vibrations.
Communication Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical
Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; vibrations ; chemical
Coenobita perlatus can live up to 25-30 years in the wild, but once in captivity they typically live from 1-4 years.
Status: wild: 25-30 (high) years.
Status: captivity: 1 to 4 years.
These creatures reproduce sexually and will not reproduce in captivity. Reproduction occurs while both individuals are in intermolt (hard-shelled stage), often in or near the burrows of males, or on land near the sea. Male C. perlatus place a spermatophore on the female (externally) which is then dissolved by secretions as the eggs are released. The eggs (about 10,000-50,000 per fertilization) are attached to the pleopods (appendages used for swimming) on the female's abdomen and remain there for some time. Female C. perlatus moisten the eggs with water that is held in the gastropod shell. After the eggs develop, females carry them on their abdomens to the sea, where they leave them on wet sand or a wet rock for the tide to carry them out to sea. The eggs are hatched and the larvae undergo planktonic development. Young C. perlatus are small, molting several times while still at sea in order to reach adult size. They then move to land, where they are vulnerable to their predators until they find a shell. Once C. perlatus have found shells, they live on land the rest of their lives. (Hazlett, 1998, Burggren, 1988, Ingle, 1993, Veltman, 1997)
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Coenobita perlatus
No available public DNA sequences.
Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Coenobita perlatus
Public Records: 4
Specimens with Barcodes: 4
Species With Barcodes: 1
Humans are currently the greatest danger to Coenobita perlatus. Though these creatures are not going extinct and are not yet endangered, we humans are destroying their habitats, collecting the crabs for food, over- collecting for pet shops, and polluting the environment. There are many conservation actions currently taking place that affect C. perlatus indirectly. These include shoreline clean-up of human pollution, and prevention of pollution by factories and barges. Pollution is a great threat to C. perlatus because they need a healthy environment to reproduce properly, a safe place to grow their eggs, and clean land and water to live on and drink from.
US Migratory Bird Act: no special status
US Federal List: no special status
CITES: no special status
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Economic Importance for Humans: Positive
Coenobita perlatus can be used as a source of food for humans, but are most commonly found as household pets. They also play a vital role in seashore clean-up because they are scavengers. By ridding the shoreline of dead sea matter and other material that collects on the shore, hermit crabs are beneficial in keeping the shoreline clean and creating a healthier environment for humans and other aquatic and coastal organisms. (Veltman, 1997)
Positive Impacts: pet trade ; food
Coenobita perlatus, is a species of terrestrial hermit crab. It is known as the strawberry hermit crab because of its reddish orange colours. It is a widespread scavenger across the Indo-Pacific, and is also traded to hobby aquarists.
Adults may grow to an average length of 80 mm (3.1 in) and a mass of 80 g (2.8 oz), and inhabit discarded gastropod shells. They are coloured red or orange; this has led to the species' common name of strawberry hermit crab.
C. perlatus lives in a wide swathe of the Indo-Pacific, from Mauritius, Seychelles and Aldabra in the west to Samoa in the east. In Australia, the species is limited to Christmas Island, the Cocos Islands, the Great Barrier Reef and the Coral Sea Islands Territory. In the wild, animals may live for 25–30 years, but only live for 1–4 years in captivity.
Ecology and behaviour
C. perlatus keeps a supply of water in the shell it inhabits. It returns to the sea at night to refresh its water, and it performs osmoregulation by taking appropriate quantities of sea water and fresh water. In the heat of the day, it can bury itself in damp sand as a means of thermoregulation and to prevent water loss. It can also withdraw into its shell and close the aperture with its claws.
C. perlatus is an efficient scavenger, to the extent that the low numbers of carrion-breeding flies on many islands have been attributed to the presence of C. perlatus. It has also been observed to use its claws to pinch the live flesh from the invasive land snail Achatina fulica.
|External identifiers for Coenobita perlatus|
|Encyclopedia of Life||2922407|
|Also found in: ADW|
C. perlatus is the rarest of the six species which are frequently found in the hobby aquarium trade.