The animal world is chock-full of critters that do seemingly odd or unusual things. The decorator crab is one such example, a crustacean that likes to deck itself out in the latest fashion using surrounding materials to get the job done. But as you might come to expect, there’s a legitimate reason for this peculiar behavior, and it may help the crabs stay alive.
If you’ve ever witnessed a decorator crab before, then you may have noticed that it sticks various objects to its body, such as seaweed and kelp, just to name a few. Animal experts think this is a way for the crab to avoid predation, as it helps the animal blend in with its natural surroundings.
At the top of the decorator crab’s head, and all over its shell, are small hook-like hairs that resemble Velcro. The decorator crab takes full advantage of these hairs, stuffing small branches and other nearby objects into them such that they’ll stick to the crab’s body. What’s more is the natural camouflage hides the crab’s antennae movements, helping them avoid predation via the birds up in the skies.
Some decorator crabs go to more extremes than others, and when mere seaweed and kelp isn’t enough, the crabs may depend on the growth of algae or anemones to better protect them. Anemones can deliver a painful sting, so when the decorator crabs wear them, they help the crabs fend off unwanted predators.
So while getting dressed with ocean goodies may seem like an unusual type of behavior, it appears that the crabs have a legitimate reason for doing so.