Okay, I know I normally only do articles on Saturdays, but this animal was too weird to wait for. A crab – not weird. A massive crab that climbs trees – very weird. The giant tree crab lives on three islands in the Pacific: New Guinea, Borneo, and Sumatra. They are huge and weigh up to 50 pounds (22.6 kg). This 4-foot (1.2 meter) long carnivorous invertebrate is an animal you do not want to mess with.
The giant tree crab climbs up trees and then looks around for bird nests. Once it finds one, it will eat the eggs, the young, and the parents. In order to sneak up on a bird’s nest, one of these crabs will climb up onto a limb right above the bird’s nest. It will then drop down on the unsuspecting victims. If there is no overhanging limb, it will climb up to the limb on which the bird’s nest is and climb out on the bottom of that limb until it is right below the nest. It will then reach its claws up and cover the nest so none of the birds can escape. No matter how hard the bird’s egg shells are, they are no match for the extreme strength possessed by the claws of the giant tree crab. During the seasons where there are no birds to eat, it will consume primates, medium-sized reptiles, and large invertebrates.
This crab has a shell, and it is a VERY hard one. It is so hard that one was known to have gotten run over by a car and still survive. If one of its legs gets cut off, it will grow back a new one in two weeks. If an animal gets in the way of the giant tree crab, it had better get out of the way fast, or hope it can regrow limbs like the giant tree crab can. If this invertebrate feels threatened, it will use its extra strong claws to cut through almost anything, even skin and bones.
When I said animals should get out of this crab’s way fast, I meant REALLY fast. Not only can this amazing animal climb up a 30 foot (9 meter) tree in as little as 4 seconds, but it can also scamper across the ground at speeds of up to 21 miles (34 km) per hour!
Giant tree crabs mate in late fall to early winter starting when they are around 10 years old, which is when they reach full size. The female produces up to 200 eggs which are about 1 millimeter across. She lays them immediately in a self-made “basket” of leaves and glued together with saliva. The male will then carefully transport this basket to a still body of water and set it afloat.
Within a few days, any “boats” that have not been eaten by predators will come alive with many mini marvelous crustaceans. At this point, these tiny animals, which are then only 2 millimeters long, start eating the “boat” they were born in. These extra nutrients give them enough strength to be able to swim to the surface to breathe during the first days of their aquatic life. Once the “boat” is mostly eaten, the young form a group which they stay in for about a year when they are about three inches (7.6 cm) long. They then live a solitary aquatic life for another five years or so. Eventually, when the young are about one foot (30 cm) long, they come out of the water to live for up to 150 years, making them one of the longest living animals.
Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom to read more about this animal!
- Animal: The Definitive Visual Guide. David Burnie and Don E. Wilson, Smithsonian Institution, ISBN: 978-0-7566-6002-4
- giant tree crab: Brocken Inaglory
- range: Kwamikagami
Although there is a crab that climbs trees, these facts are completely made up.