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Christmas Island - a very crabby place

Crabs are impossible to ignore on Christmas Island. Visitors and newly arrived residents soon become familiar with the conspicuously visible red crabs, robber crabs and blue crabs, but most are not aware that there are many other​ more cryptic terrestrial, intertidal and subtidal crab species that inhabit the island. Collectively, these crustaceans play a very important role in the island's unique ecosystems.

Most people think of crabs as marine creatures and are surprised to learn that there are land-living crabs that will drown if submerged in water. Christmas Island has about a dozen terrestrial crab species, five of which are found nowhere else, and is home to probably the world's most diverse and abundant land crab populations, that are certainly not matched by any other island. Further research will undeniably reveal additional, as yet undiscovered species of crabs, and lead to the new taxonomic classification of some of the island's known species.

Hopefully this website, along with the book "Crabs of Christmas Island", will assist in raising an increased interest in, and highlight, the diversity of Christmas Island crabs. Crabs are an integral component of Christmas Island's unique faunal assemblage. The protection and conservation of the island's distinctive natural features is central to Christmas Island's long term socio-economic future as it moves on from an unsustainable and environmentally destructive phosphate mining history.


Have a flick through the pages of this web site to get a close up look at the many and varied crab species that can be found on Christmas Island.


Check out the Robber crab page and read about the crazy slaughter of over 3,000 of these magnificent crabs that has occurred, and is still happening, on island roads.  


New book !!!

We are pleased to announce that a new book about Christmas Island Red crabs is now available


An eye-catching book that superbly describes and illustrates with spectacular images one of nature's most amazing animal migrations. Every year tens of millions of Christmas Island's endemic Red crabs travel from the rainforest to the shore and return on an annual breeding migration that is acknowledged as one of the most spectacular natural history events on Earth. Follow the crabs on their breeding migration and learn about all aspects of this amazing event.  
You can purchase the book from the author by contacting him at
or from
Christmas Island Post Office
or from
Christmas Island Tourism Association
Red Crab Breeding Migration (2).gif

A selection of pages in the book

 Crabs of Christmas Island​ book

The Christmas Island Natural History Association's 

 publication in a series of books that highlight

Christmas Island's unique natural features.

Crabs of Christmas Island, Max Orchard, Christmas Island crabs

288 full color pages

ISBN 970646576428

Medium format hardcover​

'Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean is renowned for its land crabs. Its annual migration of the Red Land Crab (Gecarcoidea natalis) has been described by Sir David Attenborough as one the 10 greatest natural wonders on Earth. It goes without saying it’s a crab-researcher’s paradise! This new book on the crabs of Christmas Island was written by Max Orchard, who has  spent many years on the island trying to protect and conserve the land crabs of the island. It goes without saying that he has grown to love his crabs, and the layout and writing style of the book clearly reflects his passion for them....​'

'.... Max Orchard is a cherished friend who persuaded, encouraged and helped the writer and his colleagues do work on the crabs of Christmas Island; renewing research ties the Raffles Museum has had with this island that go back some 70 years! He has helped carcinology push the frontiers of what we know about crabs in this remarkable island.....'

'.... The book—it is a wonderful tome— is filled with hundreds of fantastic photographs of crabs of all sorts! Many are of species that have rarely or never been figured in colour before. More significantly, it contains a great deal of information about the animals, from his own personal experience and knowledge, that cannot be found in books or publications elsewhere....'

'.... “Crabs of Christmas Island” is a book natural historians and nature lovers will love to have on their shelves. For carcinologists, it is a “must-have”! ...'

Professor Peter K. L. Ng

Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

National University of Singapore

"Crabs of Christmas Island"

is available from:

Christmas Island Post Office

Christmas Island Tourism Association

Christmas Island Tourism Association, Christmas Island

For information on Christmas Island and products for sale, visit CITA's website;

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