Mangrove Tree Crabs

Maintenance of mangrove tree crabs
Mangrove tree crabs are easy to maintain, but difficult to catch. Raccoons feed on the crabs, so by observing how these animals catch them, we developed an easier method. Raccoons approach the crabs which then move to the opposite side of the root or trunk. By reaching immediately behind the root or trunk, often you can catch the crab. You will have to develop your own method.

Prior to capturing your organisms, you need to make preparations. If mangrove seedlings are being dropped, you can collect a few and plant them. You can also purchase seedlings. Plants can be kept in pots of different sizes and can be watered with spring water or with dilute salt water.

Mangrove tree crabs are good climbers and jumpers, so they need to be maintained in an enclosure. If using an aquarium, make sure that there is a tightly fitting cover. Building a screen enclosure for your mangrove allows more room for the animals to move around and more area for you to observe them.

The crabs are primarily herbivores, but will occasionally eat meat. Slivers of carrots and apples supplement the nutrition that the crabs can derive from eating the mangrove leaves. A small piece of fish can also be added to give variety to the diet. There should be fresh spring water available in the enclosure. Do not overcrowd the enclosure. Generally, one crab per cubic foot of enclosure is a good rule to follow.

Background Readings for Mangrove tree crab projects

Beever, J; Simberloff, D.; King, LL. 1979. Herbivory and predation by the mangrove tree crab Aratus pisonii. Oecologia 43 (3): 317-328.

Chiussi, R. 2003. Orientation and Shape Discrimination in Juveniles and Adults of Mangrove Crab Aratus pisonii (H. Milne Edwards, 1837): Effect of Predator and Chemical Cues. Marine and Freshwater Behaviour and Physiology 36 (1): 41-50.

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Marine Science Outreach Initiative
New College of Florida