Caribbean hermit crab, Coenobita clypeatus

Photo by Bob Thomas, Glover’s Reef Caye, Belize, May 2012.

Photo by Bob Thomas, West Snake Caye, Belize, May 2008.

Photo by Aimee Thomas, Glover’s Reef Caye, May 2010.Photographer unknown, Glover’s Reef Caye, Belize, May 2010.

The Caribbean hermit crab is common on most cayes of the Caribbean.  In Belize, its favored shell is the West Indian top shell, Cittarium pica.  It is, however, found in other shells when young.  Like most hermits, it will occupy anything that works, like the random plastic cap and the Smirnoff Vodka caps, above.

These animals are nocturnal and spend their days inside their shells.  At night, they are walking everywhere, and the voraciously attack any food that hits the ground.  We think of them as terrestrial, but the top photo shows one sitting on a limb about 4 ft off the ground.



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