crabs with flat, squarish bodies and flat pointed legs are common
in many of our mangroves. Our mangrove trees are often full of crabs!
Features: Body width 4-5cm. Body
flat and squarish, legs flat with pointed tips. Pincers may be colourful.
The sides of the body have a structure with a net-like pattern that
help recirculate and oxygenate water in the gill chambers. In this
way, these crabs can breathe air and stay out of the water for some
Many are burrowers, digging holes at the base of mangrove trees and
in mud lobster mounds. At high tide during the day, tree-climbing
varieties are often seen clinging to tree trunks just above the water
line. Here they remain motionless. They probably do this to avoid
both aquatic predators in the water, as well as airborne predators
such as birds.
Some of the Episesarma species seen in Singapore can be distinguished
by the colour of their pincers.
What does it eat? It eats mainly
leaves, gathering these at night from the ground or by climbing up
trees. These crabs have been observed as high as 6m up in trees. It
may also scavenge any dead animals that it comes across.
Human uses: The Teochew pickle
these crabs in black sauce with vinegar and eat them with porridge.
The Thais eat them salted with the roe or fried whole. They are considered
pests in mangrove plantations because they attack mangrove seedlings.
Pasir Ris Park, Aug 09
About to munch on flowers?
Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Sep 03
Kranji Nature Trail, Dec 10
Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Dec 03
Singapore tree climbing crab
has all red pincers.
Violet tree climbing crab
has purple-white pincers.
Pink tree climbing crab
has red--white pincers.
climbing crabs on Singapore shores
species recorded for Singapore
Wee Y.C. and Peter K. L. Ng. 1994. A First Look at Biodiversity
in red are those listed among
the threatened animals of Singapore
from Davison, G.W. H. and P. K. L. Ng and Ho Hua Chew, 2008.
The Singapore Red Data Book: Threatened plants and animals of Singapore.
Family Sesarmidae (previously Grapsidae)
Episesarma chentongensis=**Episesarma chentongense (Pink
tree climbing crab)
Episesarma palawanensis=**Episesarma palawanense
Episesarma singaporensis=**Episesarma singaporense (Singapore
tree climbing crab)
Episesarma taeniolata=**Episesarma mederi
Episesarma versicolor (Violet tree climbing crab)
- Ng, Peter
K. L. and Daniele Guinot and Peter J. F. Davie, 2008. Systema
Brachyurorum: Part 1. An annotated checklist of extant Brachyuran
crabs of the world. The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology. Supplement
No. 17, 31 Jan 2008. 286 pp. (Online
PDF on the Raffles Bulletin of Zoology website).
- Lim, S.,
P. Ng, L. Tan, & W. Y. Chin, 1994. Rhythm of the Sea: The Life
and Times of Labrador Beach. Division of Biology, School of
Science, Nanyang Technological University & Department of Zoology,
the National University of Singapore. 160 pp.