The Lower Vertebrates & Invertebrates team at the Paignton Zoo in Devon, UK, has something to shell-abrate after successfully breeding exotic Vampire Crabs for the very first time.
The photo above, snapped by Paignton Zoo photographer Eleanor Stobbart, shows how tiny this colorful crab species is with a ten pence coin for comparison purposes. We imagine the clawed critter must feel like it just raided Fort Knox!
“They are totally amazing!,” enthused Keeper Lauren Lane. “They’re small, active, colourful crabs that live in freshwater in the forests of Java and Indonesia. They are threatened by over-collection for the pet trade. The species was only formally described in 2015.”
Breeding the cute yet creepy crustaceans was a labor of love – literally – for staff at the Paignton Zoo. Starting with roughly 20 adults and juvenile crabs loaned by the Chester Zoo in December of 2018, the the Paignton Zoo now has about 80 Vampire Crabs scuttling about after a very successful group egg hatching. “We hope that lots of the hatchlings will survive” stated Lane. “We will split them into smaller groups to reduce the risk of them eating each other.” Wait, so they’re vampires AND cannibals? Lovely.
Timing being everything, the young Vampire Crabs will take pride of place when the zoo’s revamped Investigate bug-house reopens later this year. “This is a vampire crab,” explained Paignton Zoo spokesman Philip Knowling. “With its purple body, orange pincers and piercing pale eyes, it’s a nightmarish vision. And a crab that’s also a vampire? Days out at the beach will never be the same.” Wow, Phil, we hope you’re prepared for overwhelmed parents eager to “thank” you in person this summer. (via Devon Live)