CRAB-EATING MUDSKIPPER

posted in: Fauna, Interspecific, Videography | 3
Anak Ketam
Anak Ketam

“We humans are not the only ones who enjoy feasting on crabs. Other creatures also relish crunching on these coastal delights, from crab-eating macaques (Macaca fascicularis), to crab-eating frogs (Fejervarya cancrivora), to crab-eating snakes (Fordonia leucobalia). Why not, when our mangrove forests are simply crawling with crabs (above)?

Mudskipper makan Ketam
Mudskipper makan Ketam

“They are also eagerly sought after by eagle-eyed Giant Mudskippers (Periophthalmodon schlosseri) (above). During a recent exploration of local mangroves, I was alerted to a commotion under the boardwalk. After assessing the situation, it dawned upon me that an adult mudskipper had just pounced upon a juvenile sesarmid.

Mudskipper makan Ketam
Mudskipper makan Ketam

“The prey’s body was firmly subdued inside the mudskipper’s mouth, but its legs were still sticking out initially (above and below).

Mudskipper makan Ketam
Mudskipper makan Ketam

“Have you ever wondered how a slippery mudskipper manages to manipulate a feisty crab with just its mouth? Watch this video footage to find out:

“In total, this mudskipper took approximately 15 minutes to complete its meal, from the point of capture until it finally swallowed the entire crab.”

Dr. Leong Tzi Ming
Singapore
6th February 2017

3 Responses

  1. That’s a very good and clear video, however I still don’t understand how the mudskipper managed to subdue and eat the crab – did it drown the crab first? Also, how does it deal with the sharp legs and pincers – wouldn’t these cause damage to the mudskipper’s soft body as they are swallowed?

  2. Leong Tzi Ming

    Excellent questions from an inquisitive mind!

    First, let’s examine the prey:
    Death by drowning is unlikely, as crabs have gills and can breathe underwater.
    This juvenile crab is more likely to have succumbed to the sheer force of the mudskipper’s jaws clamping down on it and pinning it against the mud. Moreover, keep in mind that the shells of young crabs are still relatively thin, compared to the adults, and so offer less protection from external pressure.
    My conclusion: crushed to death.

    Next, let’s examine the predator:
    This unique fish possess powerful jaws that are tough enough to excavate tunnels in the thick mud, so pinning down a young crab should be a piece of cake. In addition, notice how thick its lips are. The inner lining of its mouth should also be relatively thick-skinned. All these are wonderful adaptations for a diet which includes crabs on a regular basis. Swallowing the entire crab, shell and all, would be a great source of calcium! This is why mudskippers hardly suffer from osteoporosis.

    : )
    LTM

    • Thanks for the answer! I didn’t know crabs could breathe underwater – learned something new today!

Leave a Reply