Are land crabs edible? Can you eat land crabs? What are the health benefits?

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Are land crabs edible?

Yes, land crabs are edible but not all land crabs are edible. Some lands crabs may be possibly poisonous, whereas some may feed on the garbages in your backyard, some may not taste well, while some that are edible are cooked with love and eaten with taste worldwide.

Although, the majority of the crabs that find its way to our plates are eaten with joy and these are mostly aquatic and marine in nature.

A majority of the edible crabs are True crabs that can be seen around the various Crab fisheries which capture or farm crabs. They make up 20% of all crustaceans caught and farmed worldwide, with about 1.4 million tonnes being consumed annually.

While other land crabs like the Coconut crabs, Blue land crab, Small hermit crabs, Halloween-Crab, Ocypode ghost crab, etc. are well-eaten widely. People find its application in a majority of the sea-food, snacks, and a wide variety of dishes.

Large land crabs like the Coconut crab and the Cardisoma crab and others choose to live most of its adult life away from saltwater and only return to the marine water to drink, wet their gills, and breed. They are edible.

Giant Lands crabs like the coconut crabs are eaten in parts of Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands and are considered a delicacy there. Due to its large size, it’s very rich and meaty and may often taste something between a lobster and crab.

Just like the other aquatic crabs, the land crabs have crunchy claws (when deep-fried in oil) that are edible and generally have the most of the meat.

In most land crabs, people will eat the whole body as it has plentiful of meat, and the liver (tomalley) is high prized by some people due to its medicinal use.

Everything of the crab is edible, pretty much the entire body is edible, other than the gills and the eyes. Ignore the gills and throw them away as those are dirty.

Are land crabs poisonous?

Yes, as already said, not all crabs are safe to eat as some may be poisonous by nature, or some may have accumulated those poisons during their lifetime by feeding on the various pesticide affected plants or insects in the farmlands.

Crabs are not venomous, they are only poisonous. And moreover, they are not truly poisonous meaning that they don’t have their own toxin.

The poisonous ones can carry lethal doses of toxins within their internal organs, but they do not produce the toxins themselves.

The toxins of the crabs are obtained from their diet or due to other symbiotic microorganisms that live within their body.

For instance, the crabs that are grouped under the Family Xanthidae that include some species of Gorilla crabs, Mud crabs, Pebble crabs, or Rubble crabs are poisonous.

They have such toxins that are not destroyed by cooking and for which no antidote is known. So, better not to take the risk with these species and avoid eating them regardless.

Others like the Toxic Reef Crab, Mosaic Crab, Shawl Crab, etc. is nearly fatal to humans and is so toxic so as to kill within a few hours of consumption.

Those that can be seen in the waterfront homes and beachfront recreational areas are well to eat like Coconut crabs, Hermit crabs, etc.

Those that include a few species of Mud crabs are being the most common. The Mud crab is one of the best ones you could wish for that has moist meat and awesome flavour.

Although a majority of the land crabs are seen to feed on leaves, fruits, berries, and flowers in our yards and farms. So, it’s okay to feed on them, most probably the claw and leg meat.

Those land crabs that you see on your organic farm are okay to feed on as they are safe.

But, those that live in your chemical fertilizers and pesticides applied farms may accumulate harmful toxins in their internal organs and may become toxic (not deadly but can make you ill). So for this reason, better to eat their claw and leg meat only if you want to or else avoid them.


Is eating crab healthy and good for you?

Yes, eating crab is really nutritious and good for health. It is a very healthy food that adds proteins, fatty acids, selenium, Vitamin B2, copper, and phosphorous compounds as well to our food.

The health benefit of eating crabs include the ability to boost the immune system, increase the cognitive mental processes, protect your heart, eliminates inflammation, detoxifies the body, and aid in the proper blood circulation.

In fact, the mineral zinc is very much abundant in crabs that no other plant or food can compete with it.

It is very helpful to our immune system, cell division, cell growth, and wound healing as well.

Crab is a great source of protein as compared to meat. Protein is an important building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood of our body.

Crab’s meat is low in fat and is a great source of two beneficial long-chain Omega-3 fatty acids, EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid). It helps in making our heart strong and also aids brain development, mostly in children.

Crabs meat is particularly very rich in Selenium. Thus, periodically eating crab will enhance our body’s antioxidant defense system, and will increase the body’s immune response rate.

Vitamin B2 in crab’s meat will enhance the production of steroids and red blood cells in our body. This will promote the normal growth, and the maintenance of our skin, eyes and the nervous system.

Copper bio-compounds from crab’s meat will induce proper growth and development of our body. It will also enhance the maintenance of our bone, connective tissue, brain, heart, and many other body organs.

Phosphorus from crab’s meat will induce the proper development and maintenance of bones and teeth, along with the full skeletal health and development.


Is it safe to eat crab gills?

People often say that crab gills (others may say crab lungs) are toxic and poisonous to eat. But, this is not an always true statement and is actually a myth.

Crabs use their 3 series of gills present on the thorax to respire and breathe. The gills of crabs are located under the carapace near the first pair of walking legs. The oxygen that crabs need is taken into the gills either through water or moisture in the air.

So yes, you can eat crab gills but it’s better to throw it away. It’s not at all suggested that you eat those.

Although, it’s safe to eat and not toxic. But, better not to eat as they’re actually just not digestible and taste terrible.

You should ignore eating gills because it contains dirt and other tasteless substances there, that the crab needs to excrete.

When a crab eats food, their protein-building process can produce a byproduct that enters their blood. This results in the seepage of ammonia through their gills out into the open.

Sometimes there may be some diseases there like the Black gill disease. During this disease, it has been seen that, if there is an increase in the organic detritus in the water, and also if there is a lack of aquatic plants then, freshwater crabs will often become infected by black gill and trembling disease.

So, due to these reasons better not to eat them and throw it away. You may eat it and many love this part of the crab, but do it at your own risk.


Final Words: How do land crabs differ from sea crabs? How will you know what are you eating?

The best difference to spot between a land crab and a sea crab is that you’ll often find a land crab spending most of its time in soil, mud, or in the rock crevices, and only a few minutes in contact with water.

While, if you see those of the sea crabs, you’ll find them a majority of the time in or under the water. They will often remain hidden in the rocks which often gets bathed with sea waves, or underside the aquatic plants.

Most of the sea crabs are every colorful with many designing patters, while those of the land crabs don’t have so many colors and designing patters and often follow a one colored body apperance.

Although, most of the land crabs are scavengers and omnivores, but a majority of the land crabs will feed on vegetations like leaves, fruits, flowers, roots, etc. than being feeding on just anything. While, those of the sea crabs are mostly scavengers and will likely feed on anything.

Land crabs will have a thin cuticle, semi-rigid carapace, and low flattened body that will better help them move on land than being on the water.

Whereas sea crabs will have a thick cuticle, hard carapace, and more flattened body to better withhold the pressure of the water and to make their body buoyant to better help them stay in water than being on land.

You will find many land crab of Bermuda, the West Indies, and the southern United States, living in the farm fields, swamps, and mangrove thickets, and even in the mud, and nearby ponds, and other stagnant water bodies.

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