Christmas Island’s most famous crustaceans are extremely important to our forest ecosystems.
Best known for their spectacular annual migration, red crabs actually spend most of the year in one place.
The majority of the island’s more than 100 million red crabs live in moist rainforests, but they can be found in other habitats including shore terraces and even domestic gardens.
Red crabs dig burrows or live in deep rock crevices. They are sensitive to a lack of moisture and rarely leave their burrows during the dry season, plugging the entrance with a wad of leaves.
They mostly eat fallen leaves, fruits, flowers and seedlings. However, they are not strictly vegetarian and will also eat other dead crabs, birds and the introduced giant African snail.
Red crabs contribute to rainforest health by selectively consuming plants, cleaning up leaf litter, turning over the soil and fertilising it with their droppings.
Christmas Island’s red crab migration occurs at the beginning of the wet season every year.