Hermit crabs are soft-bodied crustacean animals that move on ten feet. This is the reason they are scientifically known as decapods crustaceans. Hermit crabs do not grow their shell from their body; instead they always use empty shells from other crustaceans like the snails, as their own shells. Since the crabs find recluse in a secluded shell, so they are fondly called hermits or hermit crabs. The two primary categorizations of hermit crabs species are land hermit crabs and marine hermit crabs. In fact, land hermit crabs cannot survive if kept too long in water, and marine hermit crabs cannot survive when left too long in a terrestrial habitat. Marine hermit crabs also sometimes live within sponges or sponges that have grown over a snail’s shell.
Of the two main subdivisions of species of hermit crabs, the land hermit crabs are the ones that live as pets, whereas the marine hermit crabs prefer an aquatic marine atmosphere to survive. Land hermit crabs live away from seashores and they are good climbers. They live on the food they find on forest floors and they only go to the sea for breeding. The land crabs drink water by picking up droplets of water on their front claws and then lifting the claws so that the water rolls down to the gills and the mouth.
The common land hermit crab species are Coenobita clypeatus and Coenobita compressus. The clypeatus is a Caribbean native and is known by different names such as tree crab, soldier crab, Caribbean crab, the purple pincher or simply land hermit crab. The compressus crabs are Ecuadorial natives and are known as E, Ecuadorian crab, Eckie or E-crab. Besides these two common species of hermit crabs, there are some ‘exotic’ species too. The crabs, Coenobita brevimanus, Coenobita violascens, Coenobita perlatus and Coenobita rugosus belong to the exotic hermit category. Other species of hermit crabs are Ciliopagurus strigatus or Halloween hermit crab, Coenobita perlatus or strawberry land hermit crabs and Coenobita variabilis or the Australian land hermit crab. Each of these hermit crab species have distinctive features that helps in identifying them. However, the premise of this article only briefly describes the distinctive features of the two commonest hermit crab species, namely Coenobita clypeatus and Coenobita compressus.
The identifying characters between hermit crabs is the color of their claws, the shape of their claws, the shape of the eyes and the distribution of ‘speckles’ on the hermit crab body. The identifying characters of the commonest crabs, the Caribbean and the Ecuadorian crab, are briefly outlined in this article. Before explaining the characters it is important to explain what is meant by ‘speckles’ on a hermit crab’s body. The speckles are actually known as the setae and they are a kind of chitin ornamentation on the crab’s body, especially on the exoskeleton of the claw region. The Caribbean species of hermit crabs have a more speckled body than the Ecuadorian species.
The eye shapes of the crabs are also distinguishing characteristics of the crabs. The Caribbean crabs have more roundish eyes, whereas the Ecuadorian crabs have elongated eyes. The Caribbean crabs have a special armored left leg that is used most in the locomotion. In contrast, the Ecuadorian crabs do not have an armored leg for locomotion. The purple pincher crabs have a purpler colored claw, while the Ecuadorian crabs have a uniform red or orange coloring, with the claw color a shade deeper than the body color. The Ecuadorian hermit crabs are also identified with the help of distinct stripes at the side of its head. The Caribbean crabs do not possess any such stripes.