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Species Care Sheet: Purple Pincher (Coenobita clypeatus)

The HCA's official articles and crab care guides.

Species Care Sheet: Purple Pincher (Coenobita clypeatus)

PostAuthor: HCADirectors » Sun Mar 10, 2013 3:55 pm

Purple Pincher (Coenobita clypeatus)

Other Common Names: Purple-Clawed Crab, Blue Clawed Crab, Caribbean Crab, Solider Crab, Tree Crab

Forum species nickname: PP (plural PPs)


Below are the specialty characteristics of this species. For information on enclosures, housing size, diet, water needs and general care that apply to all species, please see our Crab Care Brochure, located here: viewtopic.php?t=92457


Description: Purple Pincers are named for their large claw which is usually purple or blue in color, however the color can vary greatly and can be shades of red as well. Smaller and younger PPs are often pale in color and have limbs and bodies that are a mixture of lavender, pink, cream, and peach. Medium to large hermit crabs are normally much darker and more vivid with shades of oranges, reds, magenta and purples. PPs will continue to darken as they age and large individuals will often be maroon, dark purple, or nearly black. Some crabs may be extremely vibrant, or extremely pale, and some will even have a touch of brown.

Native Habitat: Beaches, mangroves, and tropical rain forests of the Caribbean islands. This species travels far inland and can be found both at the water's edge and up into the mountains. They are found as far north as the Florida Keys, and their range extends down to South America. For an idea of what their home is like, look for information on the countries of Puerto Rico and Jamaica.

Temperatures: Between 75 and 85 is ideal, although there is evidence that they can handle and may even enjoy higher temperatures. Most crabbers recommend a temperature of 80 degrees as PPs seem most comfortable and will be most active. Temperatures between 70 and 75 will cause PPs to be sluggish and could potentially cause health problems long-term. If their enclosure is lower than 70 it can cause hibernation and a serious risk of illness and death due to the cold.

Humidity: Between 70% and 80% relative humidity. Higher humidity is safe for PPs, although it can cause problems with mold growth in their enclosure so it’s not recommended. Humidity levels below 70% will cause gill damage and a very slow suffocation since their modified gills require moist air in order to work properly.

Diet: PPs seem to enjoy oak and maple leaves and bark and will generally eat more vegetation than other species.

Activity Level: Low to Moderate. This species is mostly nocturnal but is also semi-active in the morning and evening. During the day they will normally choose to find cover and wait for nightfall, but some individuals will be active throughout the day as well.

Enclosure: Providing lots of hiding places and areas where they feel secure will allow them to stay visible even during the day. They are climbers by nature and many will spend most of their time up high in the tank if given places to do so. They will dig for fun, but not as much as the other species. PPs also do well in very large communities.

Shells: This crab species has a very wide range of shells that they will wear, but only a few preferred shells that are the most likely to be chosen. Compared to other hermit crab species they are not very picky about shell types.

Shells preferred by this species are:
Turbo petholatus (tapestry turbo, spotted tapestry, banded tapestry, carved tapestry)
Turbo reevi (often sold as smaller tapestry turbo)
Turbo fluctuosus (striped turbo, Mexican turbo, grey turbo)
Turbo imperialis, T. marmoratus, T. militaris (jade turbo, camo turbo, jumbo pearl turbo)
Babylonia (japonica, spirata, and areolata) for smaller crabs

Native shells include:
Phyllonotus pomum (apple murex)
Fasciolaria tulipa (Tulip shell)
Liguus virgineus (Haitian tree snail, candy snail)
Cittarium pica (magpie, West Indian top shell, arapica, pica)
Various small Trochus species
Various land snails
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