Constantia crab

I’m still wondering about that crab we saw yesterday. Under a car. In Constantia.

Thing is, I always thought crabs lived near the sea. (Apart from Coconut crabs, that is.)
And this was some distance away from the sea.

I’ve been doing some rudimentary calculations and worked out that the most accessible sea to Alphen Drive is about 12.4km away.

The route the crab may have taken up the M3.

There is sea nearer than that as the crow flies, but it’s over a massive mountain and anyway, crabs can’t fly.
And bearing in mind that this crab was only about 8cm across, that 12.4km is the equivalent of you or I walking to the moon.
Sideways.

So what exactly was this crab doing under a car in Constantia?
Do we get land crabs in South Africa? In Cape Town?
Or was it just on holiday? Constantia’s Green Belt is very pretty.

Google has been unhelpful and I’m not exactly sure who else to ask. Especially after some of the results I got when I searched for information about “crabs” on the internet. Goodness me.

I’m quite sure that’s not the kind of thing you’d find in a nice suburb like Constantia.

UPDATE: This tweet leads me to look into Potamidae spp. A-ha!

Coconut Crab

Couldn’t resist. This is great.

The coconut crab, Birgus latro, is the largest land-living arthropod in the world and is probably at the limit of how big terrestrial animals with exoskeletons can get under the prevailing conditions. Their body is divided into four regions; the cephalic lobe, forepart, trunk, and opisthosoma. It is a highly apomorphic hermit crab and is known for its ability to crack coconuts with its strong pincers in order to eat the contents.

crab1
Bin raider (credit)

And should you have the misfortune to get pinched by one of these monsters (and assuming you’re still conscious), you’d do well to¬†remember this gem, from Victorian naturalist Thomas Hale Streets:

It may be interesting to know that in such a dilemma a gentle titillation of the under soft parts of the body with any light material will cause the crab to loose its hold.

Yep. Tickle it. Either that or just batter it with a rock. Quick as you can.