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Species Care Sheet: Ecuadorian (Coenobita Compressus)

The HCA's official articles and crab care guides.

Species Care Sheet: Ecuadorian (Coenobita Compressus)

PostAuthor: HCADirectors » Sun Mar 10, 2013 3:59 pm

Ecuadorian (Coenobita Compressus)

Other Common Names: Pacific Crab, Equidorian, Eqqie

Forum species nickname: E (plural Es)


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: Ecuadorian hermit crabs come in a variety of strong colors. Very small crabs will be bright blue, green, or even yellow-green. As they grow their colors will change to shades of brown and tan, army green, cream, orange, and yellow. Larger crabs will often turn a strong red or orange. It's normal for them to change color dramatically during their first molt in captivity. Their undersides and the inside of their legs usually stay very white compared to the rest of their bodies.

They can be distinguished from other species by their () shaped eyes, and they may or may not have stitch marks (\\\\) on their large claw or a dark splotch beneath their eye. Their backs are extremely broad, and their abdomens may fold under rather than curl into a spiral.

Specialty Information: This species is most often confused with Ruggies. Fully grown Ecuadorian crabs are often much smaller than the other land species that are kept as pets, and extra-large to jumbo sized Ecuadorians are rare to find in the pet trade.

Native Habitat: They are found on the Pacific side of Central and South America, from the Baja California peninsula in Mexico south into Peru. They are found both in arid areas like beaches and dunes, and also in tropical rainforest areas. For an idea of their native habit, look at Alcapulco, Mexico; Panama City, Panama; and Paita Peru.

Temperatures: Between 80F and 90F degrees, though they have been known to be perfectly alright with temperatures higher than that for short periods. Temperatures between 72 and 80 can cause Es to be sluggish and not active. Temperatures lower than that could potentially 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 Es, although it can cause problems with mold growth in their enclosure so it is not recommended. They may not be as active in humidity levels below 60%, as this will cause gill damage and a very slow suffocation since their modified gills require moist air in order to work properly.

Diet: This species is known for being picky, and so may refuse to eat for several days at a time. Fruit and flowers are usually well accepted, as is honey. Finding proteins they like may be a challenge, but should always be offered as Es tend to go on protein binges when they are in the mood. Crickets and other insects (dried or freshly killed) are usually well received.

Activity Level: Very High. Es are active at all times of the day and night, and they are extremely quick! They may also be very skittish around humans and other crabs, but each crab has it's own personality and some may be very bold or aggressive.

Enclosure: It may help to have extra substrate as this species is known for digging up molting crabs. Es will spend time making elaborate tunnels, but they also enjoy climbing high as well.

Shells: Along with Aussie crabs, Es are the most stubborn of all the crab species when it comes to new shells. They have an ability to modify the shell they are wearing by completely removing all of the inner spiral, creating an empty cavern that fits their abdomen. Because of this, they are often not willing to take the chance on a new shell until they absolutely can no longer fit into the shell they are currently wearing. Pre-modified shells are often snatched up quickly by smaller crabs once a larger crab has changed.

Es prefer both D shaped shells and O shaped shells equally. Smaller crabs will often stick with the black nerites they came home from the store with for a very long time. Larger crabs may come wearing impossible to identify shells that are full of holes and falling apart - given a wide selection of shells to choose from these crabs often will change within the first few weeks of being home. Es rarely go shell shopping like other species will, and the shell they finally decide on will often be the one they keep wearing for years.

It's very normal for Es to choose very lightweight and tight-fitting shells that look to us like they are uncomfortably small. This species is designed to pick up and run from trouble, rather than hunker down and wait inside a shell as a PP would, and so they choose tiny shells which are easy to lift and carry when running.

Shells preferred by this species are:
Nautica lineata (striped moon snail) - only small shells
Nautica stellata (starry moon snail) - hard to find
Polinices duplicatus, Neverita didyma (whale eye)
Babylonia (japonica, spirata, and areolata) for smaller crabs
Turbo reevi (often sold as smaller tapestry turbo)
Turbo fluctuosus (striped turbo, Mexican turbo, grey turbo)
Tonna sulcosa (striped tun)

Native shells include:
Nerita melanotragus, Nerita scabricosta (Black nerite)
Zebra littorina (zebra periwinkle) - only small shells
Various triton species
Various Thais species
Various Tonna and Tun species
Various species of unknown origin
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