Yes, they are red, or somewhat red. Actually, the reddest thing on a Coenobita violascens is it's fire-red antennae! The body can be indian red, bluish or even black!
Coenobita violascens is a relatively new arrival in the U.S., and there has been a lot of speculation as to what species of crab this actually is! Leave it to long-time Landhermitcrabs.com member JediMasterThrash to finally get to the bottom of the mystery! JMT took the time to patiently observe all the characteristics and finally let us know that most of us were wrong -- what we thought was C. cavipes was in fact C. violascens! If you would like to read JMT's treatise on species, you can find it HERE.
Coenobita violascens was a relatively unknown species to U.S. crabbers before 2003. We had all seen pictures of C. brevimanus, C. perlatus and C. variabilis from Australia, but never the C. violascens. Everyone thought that they were all dramatically purple, but that is not always the case! To make things even more confusing, it appears that some Coenobita violascens crabs actually WERE imported into the United States and thus are in fact available as pets. I refer you to the link above and JediMasterThrash's excellent treatise on how to determine "who is who."
They need and love salt water! Especially right after you bring them home from the pet store. They will drink it for hours and hours! They also really enjoy digging. Not just to de-stress, either. My "violas" stay buried in the Forest Bedding about 80% of the time. Be sure you provide them with a substrate that facilitates a lot of digging.
C. violascens molts very well in sand and Forest Bedding, all of mine have molted in both and came up perfect. The general molting method described on the Molting page works well for other exotics so I suspect that C. violascens would find it acceptable. When it comes to Violas' molting habits, they are very similar to those of the purple pincher or Ecuadorian crabs. They will dig under and molt and then come back up when they are ready.
The Violas that I own are very, very shy. They stay underneath the substrate most of the time and only come up at night to eat and drink. They also don't like to change shells much. Each crab is different, however, so yours might be more friendly. Some people have mentioned that their Violas are very vocal, but I have never heard mine vocalize. Then again, they are usually buried so I probably wouldn't hear them even if they did. C. violascens is one of the least aggressive of the species, as far as I can tell. They only want to bury and be left alone.
I have been keeping my C. violascens crabs in a crabitat along with all my Ecuadorians and other exotic species. They appear to get along well. Keep an eye on the crabitat initially after introducing ANY new species, to make sure there is no trouble.
If you would like to view more pictures and infomation about identifying this species of hermit crab, please check out the Links page.
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