Halloween crab

Halloween crab

Taxobox | name = Halloween crab

regnum = Animalia
phylum = Arthropoda
subphylum = Crustacea
class = Malacostraca
ordo = Decapoda
infraordo = Brachyura
familia = Gecarcinidae
genus = "Gecarcinus"
species = "G. quadratus"
binomial = "Gecarcinus quadratus"
binomial_authority = de Saussure, 1853

The Halloween crab ("Gecarcinus quadratus"), also known as the Moon crab, Mouthless crab or Harlequin land crab, is a colourful land crab from the family Gecarcinidae. It is found in mangrove, sand dunes and rainforest along the Pacific coast from Mexico south to Peru. The taxonomy in relations to the Atlantic "Gecarcinus lateralis" is disputed, with many considering it and "G. quadratus" to be conspecific.

In the pet-trade it is sometimes confused with the African "Cardisoma armatum" (sometimes also referred to as the Moon crab) or the primarily Caribbean "Gecarcinus ruricola". Unlike these, "G. quadratus" combines a pair of largely purple claws, reddish-orange legs, and an almost entirely blackish (actually dark brownish if seen well) carapace with a pair of yellow, orange or maroon spots behind the eyes, and an additional pair of whitish spots on the central-lower carapace. Additionally, the name Halloween crab sometimes leads to confusion with the entirely different halloween hermit crab. The carapace of "G. quadratus" may reach a length of 5 cm (2 in).

This nocturnal crab digs burrows - sometimes as long as 1,5 m (5 ft) - in the coastal rainforests of Central America, and is common in parts of Costa Rica. There it lives in the forest at least some of its adult life, but needs to return to the ocean to breed. They have gills that need to be moist all the time. If not, they die. The halloween crab is very territorial and will defend itself if threatened. It is largely herbivorous, and consumes leaf litter and seedlings. They will, however, also take animal matter if available. They have a life span of 10-15 years.Fact|date=July 2008


* Bright, D., & C. Hogue. 1972. "A synopsis of burrowing land crabs of the World and list of their arthropod symbionts and burrow associates." Contributions in Science. No. 220. [http://www.mosquitocatalog.org/pdfs/013600-0.PDF Available online (PDF)]
* Sällström, S., K. Nygren, & I. Lindquist. 2002. "Selective food choice and distribution of Mouthless crabs (Gecarcinus quadratus), in Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica." Ecological methods. SLU, Uppsala 2002.
* Sherman, P. 2006. "Influence of land crabs Gecarcinus quadratus (Gecarcinidae) on distributions of organic carbon and roots in a Costa Rican rain forest." Rev. Biol. Trop. Vol. 54(1): 149-161.
* [http://fireflyforest.net/firefly/2006/05/28/halloween-crab/ Halloween Crab] . The Firefly Forest. Accessed March 9 2008

External links

* [http://www.easyinsects.co.uk/site/content/view/22/29/ Keeping halloween and rainbow land crabs]

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