Halloween Crab Button Andy
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Halloween or Moon Crab. (Gecarcinus quadratus)

Also known as the Harlequin and Rainbow Crab, these are land crabs and this is my first time keeping them. I brought two both larger than I expected, and as soon as they were out of their container the largest sat on my hand ok with no pinching. With there purple claws, orange and black marking makes them a very impressive animal, especially in a vivarium. The orange colouring is usually a female as the males are red. There is plenty of advice on keeping these creatures on the web, some of it conflicting and some horror stories about some pets shops confusing them with other crabs keeping them completely submerged in water with no climbing space, which would suffocate and kill them. These crabs do not live in water only to keep their gills wet, although I have read some keepers keep their crabs together. Larger specimens can be territorial fighting to the death, so I am not going to risk it. I have set up two 30cm Exo Terra Terrariums in my thermostatically controlled vivarium, this is minimum size but I think it is still too small, especially being strong animals they are quite messy burrowing and move things around, so I will set up a larger vivarium in the future.

I have deep coral sand one side and moist CoCo husk the other. I am using bottled water otherwise I would treat if it was tap water and another water container filled with "instant Ocean Marine Salt" This will keep the crab healthy and the crab can decide if it wants fresh or saltwater. For a water container, a large ice cream container is ideal, with pebbles at the bottom and rocks so the crabs can easily climb out. Like me you need more space I have changed to the clear plastic lids from cd/ DVD cases you can buy, these lids can be quite deep so rocks must be placed inside for the crabs to climb out. And I have added a shallow dish for food and a flowerpot for hiding and logs to climb. Probably a good idea to change the set up occasionally so these intelligent animals do not get bored. Being natural scavengers they will eat a variety of food like fresh fruit, mine eats the mangrove first.  They will also eat vegetables, coconut, dead food like crickets, mealworms, Krill, fish, crab sticks, defrosted prawns and muscles. In the evening I always remove any uneaten food especially fruit which will go mouldy in a heated environment very quickly and spray with warm water.  A cuttlebone should always be available for important calcium to support the health of their hard exoskeleton. I have been collecting cuttlefish-bone along the beach, especially as my crabs like it so much. My slightly smaller crab is not using the flower pot provided he or she has made a very impressive burrow out of corral sand and coco husk, it is quite high and hollow inside. When filming the crab it amusingly looks up staring at me for ages, which is great for my photography, I wonder if they can recognize faces, anyway real cute.

Air temperature  24 – 27c

Humidity -  (60 - 80%)

Life Span -  8 to 10 years in captivity

Life Style  - Burrower/ hiding, nocturnal

Origin: Rain forests of Costa Rica.

 Temperament: - Variable, can be tamed with careful handling.

Size - 4" + (Carapace width)

Food - Scavengers for fruit etc. Cuttlebone for Calcium.

Andy Newman Images© 16/01/13.