Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Vinegar Crabs aka Tree Climbing Crabs

Name the Creature Activity (Something you can try with kids if a Vinegar Crab is spotted on a tree):

Guide: "Hey, we have a crab on a tree here (point to crab)."

Guide: "Let's say we want to name this crab, what name would you give it?"

Kid A: "Tree crab?"

Guide: "But how did it get up there?"

Kid A: "Climb! Oh, Tree-climbing crab!"

Disclaimer: Might not work every time.

Naked Facts:
  • During low tides, you can find them on the forest/mangrove floor feeding on leaves.
  • During high tides, you can usually find them at a height high enough to clear the water level and they will remain motionless on tree-trunks, leaves or boardwalk legs.
  • This is probably a predator-avoidance behaviour, especially with the many predatory species of fish and crabs that hunt with the incoming tide. Out of the water, they remain motionless to avoid other predators like kingfishers, monitor lizards and otters.
  • At night time or dusk, they have been seen climbing up trees to heights of more than six meters to graze on algae as well as eating leaves.
  • Food fact (1): The Teochew are known to pickle this crab in black sauce with vinegar, and take it with porridge. That’s why they are also called vinegar crabs.
  • Food fact (2): The Thais like it salted, with the roe or simply fried whole.
  • National Education: There is a tree climbing crab named the Singapore vinegar crab (E. singaporense), it is a common species of the tree climbing crab (Episesarma) and has entirely red claws. It is commonly sighted in or near mud lobster mounds.
Too Much Information:
  • They are usually burrowing crabs, digging holes at the base of trees and mud lobster mounds.
  • They are considered pests of mangrove plantations for their habit of attacking propagules (seeds of the Lenggadai, a threaten species of mangrove).
  • Tree Climbing Crabs are known to scavenge meat like many other crabs.
Reference and more about Tree Climbing Crabs

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