Crabs are known for their scavenging habits, feeding on small animals like worms, snails, and other crustaceans. However, there is a species of crab that goes beyond scavenging and preys on birds for their meat. Yes, you read that right – a species of giant crab called the coconut crab is known to eat bird meat. In this article, we will take a closer look at these terrifying creatures and their predatory behavior.
The coconut crab, also known as the thief crab, is the largest invertebrate crab living on the ground. They can weigh up to 4 kg and their claws can reach up to 1m long. They are famous for climbing trees and using their strong claws to crush coconuts to eat. That’s why they are called coconut crabs. They live alone in underground caves on some islands in the Indian Ocean, and until now, this crab species was thought to only eat carrion.
However, researcher Mark Laidre of Dartmouth College (UK) discovered the horrifying truth about these giant crabs. Coconut crabs also know how to go to bird nests to hunt and eat them. The crab slips its claws into the nest, breaks one of the bird’s wings, and knocks them off the tree. After the first attack, the giant crab slowly crawls to the ground, approaches the bird, and breaks the remaining wing. The bird is left lying on its back on the ground trying to resist weakly.
Within 20 minutes, five other coconut crabs also arrive at the scene. Perhaps their keen sense of smell prompts them to go where the smell of blood is. The first attacker drags the still-living bird to a corner and the other crabs rush into each other to fight for prey.
This predatory behavior is not just a hypothesis. Laidre has probed and discovered that seabirds have completely disappeared on the island where coconut crabs lived and vice versa. This means that the coconut crabs have been preying on seabirds for a long time, resulting in the birds completely disappearing from the island.
Now, Laidre and his colleagues plan to place more video cameras at the entrance to the crab burrow to find out if this predatory behavior is transient or permanent. This is an important step to understanding the ecological impact of these giant crabs on the island’s ecosystem.
In conclusion, the coconut crab is a terrifying creature that has shocked researchers with its predatory behavior. It goes beyond scavenging and preys on birds for their meat, which has resulted in the disappearance of seabirds on the island. More research needs to be done to fully understand the impact of these giant crabs on the island’s ecosystem.