Coconut Crabs at the Toledo Zoo

Published: Apr. 30, 2018 at 7:45 AM EDT
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The Toledo Zoo has been collecting flowers, trees and animals for the new tropical greenhouse that will be part of the museum when it opens next fall.

Coconut Crabs make up one of those groups of animals. They come from the islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

They’re named for their diet.

John Chastain, Associate Curator of herpetology and invertebrates with the Toledo Zoo explains, "They're called Coconut Crabs because they do eat coconuts. A lot of the islands they're on don't have a lot of resources, so they eat any fruit they can find on the ground. Their claws are very powerful, and they have the ability to strip the pulp off a whole coconut, and then dig into the coconut to get the meat inside of it. And they've also been known to eat birds and other reptiles and mammals and anything they can get a hold of, they'll eat it."

They live in dirt, but they can live up to 70 years. And they grow to a massive size.

Chastain says, “Ours are only about 2 pounds or so, but they get upwards of 9 pounds when they're fully grown, with leg spans up to three feet wide."

He says that the crabs pinch with the force of a dog's bite, but when you visit them in the museum, hold on tight to your belongings!

“They're also called a "robber crab". A lot of researchers turn around and find that their gear has walked off. So a lot of these crabs, if they see something that looks different and shiny, they'll grab it and drag it back to their burrow with them."

Very few zoos in the United States actually have them. But next spring, you'll be able to see six of them right here in Toledo when the Zoo’s museum opens to the public. Until then, zookeepers are learning about their mannerisms, diet and how well they get along with each other.