Devon zoo breeds a vampire crab for the first time

A British zoo has bred VAMPIRE crabs for the first time.

The creepy looking crustaceans have a purple body, orange pincers and piercing pale eyes.

Normally found in India, South East Asia and the islands of the Pacific, the spooky name was coined because of its startling appearance.

The species has become popular with aquarists and illegal over-collection for the pet trade is a real threat to the species.

And the lower vertebrates & invertebrates team at Paignton Zoo in Devon has now launched a breeding programme for the first time.

Keeper Lauren Lane said: “They are totally amazing. 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.”

Paignton Zoo staff collected adults and juvenile crabs at the beginning of December from Chester Zoo. With the recent hatching of some 60 youngsters, there are now around 80 to look after.

Lauren added: “The females carry the eggs and then they hatch as little ready-to-go crabs. We don’t really see the egg stage as the girls stay hidden. We hope that lots of the hatchlings will survive.

“We will split them into smaller groups to reduce the risk of them eating each other.”

The vampire crabs will be available for the public to see when the revamped Investigate bug house opens later in the year.

Tom Bevan

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