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Christmas Island: Family trying to enjoy a spring barbecue surrounded by robber crabs

A family who were trying to enjoy a spring barbecue were shocked to find they had been surrounded by a group of robber crabs.

The giant crustaceans, also known as coconut crabs, measure up to metre in length and have a strong sense of smell.

When an unwitting family decided on some al fresco dining on Christmas Island the crabs came running. 

Photographs of the barbecue show more than 20 of the coconut crabs eagerly awaiting a chance to snack on some leftovers

Photographs of the barbecue show more than 20 of the coconut crabs eagerly awaiting a chance to snack on some leftovers

A little girl looked unfazed as the enormous crabs surrounded her as she ate her dinner in a fold-up chair

A little girl looked unfazed as the enormous crabs surrounded her as she ate her dinner in a fold-up chair 

Photographs of the barbecue show more than 20 of the clawsome creatures eagerly awaiting a chance to snack on some leftovers. 

A little girl looked unfazed as the enormous crabs surrounded her as she ate her dinner in a fold-up chair. 

One brave crab was seen scaling the side of the table to get better access to the delicious meal on display.

The images were shared to a Christmas Island, north west of Western Australia, tourism Facebook page.  

One brave crab was seen scaling the side of the table to get better access to the delicious meal on display

One brave crab was seen scaling the side of the table to get better access to the delicious meal on display

WHAT ARE ROBBER CRABS 

Robber crabs are the largest land crustacean in the world and many call Christmas Island home.

They can weigh up to four kilograms and measure a metre wide.

Some can live up to 50 years of age.

Robber crabs forage floor for things such as seeds and fruits.

However they also scavenge dead animal carcasses for food – including eating other crabs.

Coconut crabs are exceptional climbers and move fast when it comes to food.

It’s name comes from its tendency to take foreign objects and run off with them.    

Robber crabs are closely related to hermit crabs and use seashells or coconuts for protection until they develop a hard abdomen.

Drivers on Christmas Island are asked to ‘slow down and drive around’ the animals as if their hit by a car they could be killed.  

Source: Parks Australia 

    

‘Robber crabs behaving badly! A couple of local Christmas Island families had a few extra mouths to feed at their BBQ over the weekend,’ the caption read. 

‘Coconut crabs have an incredible sense of smell and for slow moving creatures they sure move quickly when there’s food around.’

Followers of the page were quick to comment on the post, with many recounting their own brushes with the species. 

‘Lost a sneaker to these buggers one night. Couldn’t find a one-legged robber crab,’ one person joked.

Another said: ‘They are like puppies. We hung out on Dolly Beach feeding them coconuts. So cute!’

Others weren’t so thrilled with the possibility of being in the family’s shoes.

‘This makes me feel uncomfortable,’ one person said. 

Christmas Island has the largest population of robber crabs in the world.

Visitors are warned the animals are docile creatures but can move quickly when it comes to food and have been known to be behind the disappearances of items.

Tourists are told to hang their food in a tree and keep an eye on it at all times – particularly on Dolly Beach.

Drivers in the area are also asked to ‘slow down and drive around’ the animals as if their hit by a car they could be killed.  

Australians who live in WA are able to visit Christmas Island despite travel bans across the country.

However tourists were warned that robber crabs were ‘protected and respected’ on the island.

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