Halloween Week – Top 10 Halloween Crab Facts!

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Welcome to todays post for Halloween Week! We are currently on day 4 of 7. While a Halloween crab isn’t a reptile, we think it’s still hauntingly beautiful and cool enough to be featured in Halloween Week. This cool crab was described and named all the way back in 1853, however still not much is known about it. We’ve done our best to gather as many facts as we can, so keep reading to find out more about this cool crab.

Quick Facts

Scientific Name: Gecarcinus quadratus

Common Names: Halloween crab, whitespot crab, moon crab, halloween moon crab, and harlequin land crab

Geographic Range: along the Pacific coast from Mexico south to Panama

Life Span: 8 – 10 years

Conservation Status: Least Concern

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Top 10 List

1. Where They Get Their Name

Halloween crabs get their name due to their very bright colouring all over their body. These colours consist of a dark black carapace, deep purple claws, yellow or whitish spots behind their eyes and legs that range from an orange to a bright red. These are definitely very uniquely coloured crabs!

2. Opportunistic Feeders

Throughout their day to day life Halloween crabs are herbivores. They will mostly feed on things such as plant matter. This can include (but is not limited to) leaf litter, various vegetation, and seedlings. However, halloween crabs are truly omnivores, and will eat anything fresh that they find scattered around their habitat. 

3. Hiding Away

Halloween crabs spend a lot of their time in burrows that they dig underground. They spend most of the dry season (November to April) underground in their burrows that can reach up to 5 feet long, hiding from the sun and various predators. Except for when they leave during mating season, when they leave their burrows they tend to stay within a couple feet from it, scavenging for food and protecting their area.  

4. Terrestrial

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Halloween crabs are crabs that live on land, but also need water to survive. They need the water to keep their gills damp, and for reproduction purposes. While these crabs do need the water, they are first and foremost land crabs, and they do not tend to go swimming in the water once they are adults. Halloween crabs are also natural climbers, they love climbing on and through various branches and foliage. 

5. Habitat

Halloween crabs can inhabit various kinds of areas, all across the Caribbean coast. They tend to go for mangrove areas, brackish system sand dunes, and rainforests that are near water. As adults they will live in areas further from the water, but close enough they are still able to return when it’s time to reproduce. 

6. Nocturnal

Halloween crabs are nocturnal. This means they spend their days hiding and sleeping in their underground burrows, and during the night they will emerge to scavenge for food and water. 

7. Body

As described above, Halloween crabs have incredibly colourful bodies. Their carapace is generally 2 inches across, and they are 4 inches across from claw to claw. They have an exoskeleton, meaning they need calcium to keep healthy. Around every 18 months they will molt their shells. You can tell this is about to happen because their eyes will turn white and their body becomes a duller colour. 

8. Misidentified

Despite their unique appearance, other crabs are sometimes mistaken as Halloween crabs, and vice versa. The main crabs that are misidentified include: Mouthless Crab (Cardisoma Crassum), Blackback Land Crab (Gecarcinus Lateralis), and the regular Land Crab (Cardisoma Carnifex).

9.Breeding And Younglings

Halloween crabs will generally mate during the first rainfall of the year, and by the second they will return to the ocean and release their eggs. After the first major rainfall breeding season will still continue, however not on such a large scale as the first occasion. When the eggs hatch they spend time in the ocean waters as larvae, and later as they become juveniles they will return to the land to continue into adulthood. 

10. Halloween Crabs as Pets 

Despite Halloween Crabs not being the most studied of crabs, they are still a popular pet crab due to their gorgeous colouring. A few main things to keep in mind if you are ever thinking of getting one include: don’t pick up your crab by the pincer or leg, and don’t over handle them as they are able to pinch and bite you. As far as their enclosure goes, it should be hot and humid, have salt and regular water, and have a place to dig and burrow. 

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