Sunday, May 15, 2016

Coconut Crab Acrobatics 101

Coconut crabs (Birgus latro) are a delicacy in Batanes, especially on Itbayat Island, and other South Pacific Islands.   Ivatans called the coconut crab tattus. The coconut crab is the largest species of the terrestrial hermit crab, the only species of the genus birgus, but related to (as in pinsan) the species of the genus Coenobita.

Coconut is not their main food, so why are they called coconut crabs?  They eat fruits, nuts, and any organic mater.  People in Itbayat, long time ago, always saw these crabs, especially the large ones, climb coconut trees, get mature nuts, bring them down and crack them open (mainly with their pincers) so they could eat the meat.  The people of Itbayat thought coconut was the main food of these crabs, hence they called them coconut crabs.   (Got this from older generations years ago when I was a little boy.)

Handling coconut crabs looks and is actually easy. Make sure you take hold of them from their back rather than from the front, and fast, otherwise they can easily clip your fingers and hands with their tough and powerful pincers.
 Coconut crabs are much like pit-bulls.  They don't let go once they get hold of your fingers.  Otherwise, to free your fingers, either you break the crab's pincers, or  perhaps lose your fingers, or let go off the crab altogether.  You can easily catch it immediately once it lets go off your fingers.

Play with the crab.  Let go off the crab on its back and see how it gets upright.  Amazing capability.

Female species have whiskers underneath the belly.
Coconut crabs are excellent contortionists and acrobats.  They can climb trees and rock, even if they may not run swiftly.  They can even turn into ball-like object and roll downhill just to avoid being caught by hands.

That which looks like the crab's head is actually its belly which contains its delicious fats and aligge. Very delicious, and excellent source of cholesterol.  What the heck, if you have your coconut crab meal only once a month perhaps that's not too much for an asking.  The fat in the crab's belly is good mixed with boiled rice.  Try it.

Somersault completed.


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