A broken pincer could make for a crabby crab
I suspect we’ve all experienced periods of Lucy Van Pelt style crabbiness over the past months, but this creature is ‘crabby’ all the time. It is, after all, a crab: a familiar sight in my part of the world.
Since I usually encounter crabs in the water, finding this one scuttling along atop a grassy levee intrigued me. After cutting an erratic path through the grasses, it made a sudden turn, scooted down the levee’s side, and disappeared into a hole several feet above the water. Minutes passed, but the crab didn’t reappear, so I decided it had reached its destination, and went on my way.
If the crab had been our tasty blue swimming crab (Callinectes sapidus), I might have looked for its friends and turned them into supper. But the crabs I’ve known tend to stay in or very near the water, and a little research led me to suspect I’d met my first blue land crab (Cardisoma guanhumi) in that grass.
Usually found farther south in Texas, the blue land crab does range all along the Gulf coast into Florida, and this one had all the marks of C. guanhumi: a blue-green carapace and orange-to-brown legs, a single over-sized claw, its relatively large size and, of course, the fact that it was cruising around on land before it retreated into that hole.
A terrestrial species, the crab’s generally found near the shores of estuaries, creeks, and river banks. Burrowing into dense shrubbery, mud, or coastal sand hills, the crab prefers a burrow above the tide line and as much as six feet beneath the ground’s surface. Even when foraging, it doesn’t stray far from home, but uses light and sound to find the leaves, grasses, insects, and carrion it prefers. After foraging, it carries its food in its claws back to its burrow, eats until satisfied, and saves the leftovers for later.
The crab leads a relatively hidden and solitary life, but despite its solitary nature, on this day it seemed to welcome — or at least tolerate — an unexpected visitor. When a Blue Corporal dragonfly (Ladona deplanta) stopped by for an extended visit, they seemed perfectly at ease with one another, and not at all crabby or blue.
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