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Caribbean Hermit Crab in West Indian Starsnail Shell

Coenobita clypeatus and Lithopoma tectum


Most species of hermit crabs are aquatic and live in varying depths of salt water, from shallow reefs and shorelines to deep sea bottoms. Tropical areas host some terrestrial species, though even those have aquatic larvae and therefore need access to water for reproduction. But the Caribbean Hermit Crab also known as the soldier crab, the West Atlantic crab, the tree crab, and the purple pincher (due to the distinctive purple claw), is a species of land hermit crab. Adults burrow and hide under the roots of large trees, and can be found a considerable distance inland. It is both herbivorous and scavengers. In the wild, it feeds on animal and plant remains, overripe fruit, and feces of other animalsMost hermit crabs are nocturnal.


I found this little guy up high on the hill, in my garden around 10am. It is native to the west Atlantic, Bahamas, Belize, southern Florida, Venezuela, the Virgin Islands, and the West Indies.


Hermit crab species range in size and shape, from species with a carapace only a few millimetres long to Coenobita brevimanus, which can live 12–70 years and can approach the size of a coconut. I've in fact seen hermit crab inhabit big conch shells.

2 Species ID Suggestions

Caribbean Hermit Crab
Coenobita clypeatus
Imbricate Star Shell
Lithopoma tectum

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Stefania Romoff
Stefania Romoff 5 years ago

Thank you so much, J.S.! I've been trying to figure out what can of shell that was for a very long time. I find them a lot of certain beaches here in Antigua.

Caleb Steindel
Caleb Steindel 5 years ago

Nice shots stefania!

Stefania Romoff
Spotted by
Stefania Romoff

Antigua and Barbuda

Spotted on Jun 21, 2013
Submitted on Jan 18, 2015

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Hermit Crab Caribbean hermit crab Hermit crab purple pincher hermit crab

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