Coenobita clypeatus(EN)

Image©Agnes Pere

Common name

Caribbean hermit crab, Purple Pincher, PP, soldier crab.


Shield length can reach 23mm.


From southern Florida to Venezuela, Mexico, West Indian Islands, Caribbean Sea,  Panama, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Belize, Cuba etc.


May penetrate long distance inland, like to hide themselves in the cave or root of tree. They use fresh water as their water source. They can occur up to 15km from the coast, they prefer dry rather than humid areas.

Larval stages

Four to Six zoeal stages.


Body colour is mainly dark red, red, light red, orange red.

Eyestalks are of circular section, but the shape is a little bit different with Coenobita brevimanus, i.e. the bottom part of eyestalks of Coenobita clypeatus is rather thick. Eyestalks are white and the there is brown band on the lower surfaces of the eyestalks.

The eyes of some individuals are brown.

Antennal acicles are fused with the second segment of peduncle.

Left cheliped is bigger than right cheliped. No series of ridge (////) on upper outer surface of palm of left cheliped.

Palm of left cheliped in bluish-purple with orange to yellow dactylus.

It seems that bluish-purple colour is not so obvious for some larger individuals.

Upper margins of both cheliped with brush of setae.

Both cheliped with darker colour granules.

Walking legs 
Propodus of left 3rd walking leg is very strong.

Both 2nd and 3rd walking legs with darker colour granules.

The abdomen is short.

Male coxae of 5th legs
Has two short, squarish, equal extensions of the coxae with the devsely hirsute gonopore directed ventrally.

Body colour is beige, left cheliped in light-purple colour with grayish-blue dactylus. Others are similar to adult.


Shell vacancy chains have been found to occur among terrestrial hermit crabs Coenobita clypeatus.


Reference links


Reference articles

  • Achituv Y., Ziskind M.,  1985. Adaptation of Coenobita scaevola (Forskal) (Crustacea, Anemura) to terrestrial life in desert-bordered shore line

  • Bright D. B., 1966. The Land Crabs of Costa Rica

  • Burggren W. W., McMahon B. R., 2009. Biology of the Land Crabs, Cambridge University Press

  • De Wilde P.A.W.J., 1973. On the ecology of Coenobita clypeatus in Curaçao with reference to reproduction, water economy and osmoregulation in terrestrial hermit crabs

  • Greenaway P., 2003. Terrestrial adaptations in the Anomura (Crustacea: Decapoda)

  • Hung-Li Yuan, 2008. Morphological and Molecular Evidence for a Stepwise Terrestrial Evolution and Species Delimitation on the Coenobita Phylogeny

  • Krång A. S., Knaden M., Steck K., Hansson B. S., 2012. Transition from sea to land: olfactory function and constraints in the terrestrial hermit crab Coenobita clypeatus

  • Lemaitre R., Tavares M., 2015. New taxonomic and distributional information on hermit crabs (Crustacea: Anomura: Paguroidea) from the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea, and Atlantic coast of South America

  • Lewis S. M., Rotjan S. M., 2008. Vacancy Chains Provide Aggregate Benefits To Coenobita clypeatus Hermit Crabs

  • McLaughlin P. A., Dworschak P. C., 2001. Reappraisal of hermit crab species (Crustacea: Anomura: Paguridea) reported by Camill Heller in 1861, 1862 and 1865

  • McLaughlin P. A., Komai T., Lemaitre R., Rahayu D. L., 2010. Annotated checklist of anomuran decapod crustaceans of the world (exclusive of the Kiwaoidea and families Chirostylidae and Galatheidae of the Galatheoidea) Part I. Lithodoidea, Lomisoidea and Paguroidea

  • McMahon B. R., Burggren W. W., 1979. Respiration and Adaptation to the Terrestrial Habitat in the Land Hermit Crab Coenobita Clypeatus

  • Morrison L. W., Spiller D. A., 2006. Land hermit crab (Coenobita clypeatus) densities and patterns of gastropod shell use on small Bahamian islands

  • Nieves-Rivera Á. M., Williams Jr E. H., 2003. Annual Migrations and Spawning of Coenobita clypeatus (Herbst) on Mona Island (Puerto Rico) and Notes on Inland Crustaceans

  • Rotjan R. D., Chabot R. D., Lewis S. M., 2010. Social context of shell acquisition in Coenobita clypeatus hermit crabs

  • Sanvicente-Anorve L., Hermoso-Salazar M., 2011. Relative growth of the land hermit crab, Coenobita clypeatus (Anomura, Coenobitidae) from a coral reef island, southern Gulf of Mexico

  • Tudge C., Lemaitre R., 2006. Studies of Male Sexual Tubes in Hermit Crabs (Crustacea, Decapoda, Anomura, Paguroidea). II. Morphology of the Sexual Tube in the Land Hermit Crabs, Coenobita Perlatus and C. Clypeatus (Coenobitidae)

  • Wheatly M. G., Burggren W. W., McMahon B. R., 1984. The Effects of Temperature and Water Availability on Ion and Acid-Base Balance in Hemolymph of the Land Hermit Crab Coenobita clypeatus

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