The Cocoanut Crab, having no rocks to lie under, makes a burrow for himself like a rabbit among the roots of huge tropical trees. He tears off the husk from the eyed end of the nut, and then hammers with one of his heavy claws at one of the eyes until it caves in. He then inserts a hind leg conveniently furnished with nippers through the hole and helps himself to the contents. Moreover, being a practical creature, he rends the cocoanut fibre and makes a pleasant couch with it at the end of one of his subterranean galleries. When not eating nuts he turns his attention to shell fish, and then is very often caught and eaten himself.
The Land Crabs Of The West India Islands, on the other hand, prefer the uplands, only coming down to the sea coast in the spawning season. When they are on the march both negroes and white men feast grandly ; on their way back again, though—so many of them as are left—they are unmolested, for they now appear spent, keltish sort of things with no good in them.
But enough of these foreigners ; let us come to our own good, honest, dusky red fellows who live in submarine rocky strongholds all round our coasts, and while affording us dainty dishes and rare good sport on occasions, pay us out by poisoning us from time to time with ptomaines, the result maybe of a banquet on some cholera-stricken seaman. 1 have always had a distaste for the edible crab, as he is called, ever since I saw one feeding on a particularly loathsome mass of decaying animal matter which had floated out of Tenby Harbour and moored itself among some rocks about a foot under water.