Wildlife

Critter of the Week: Crabs!

It’s a new week here at Tree Limin’ Extreme, and therefore we have a new Critter of the Week. This week we are gonna take a look at some of the Virgin Islands crabs.

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A hermit crab found on a trail in Virgin Islands National Park

Hermit Crabs are a group of crab species found all over the world. There are about 1100 hermit crab species. Most live in marine environments, but the ones most commonly encountered here in the Virgin Islands are of the land loving variety. Hermit are related to other crabs, but they differ in that they carry around their home on their backs. Their abdomen does not have the hard shell of the rest of their body, and so it is vulnerable to injury and predators. They remedy this by finding the discarded shells of other sea creatures (most often sea snails), and crawling inside. Hermit crabs can be found all over the Virgin Islands, although always near to the water, which they need to reproduce. The are also mostly nocturnal.

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Ghost Crab at Salt Pond Bay, Virgin Islands National Park

Ghost crabs, or sand crabs, are common along our beautiful white sand beaches. Called ghost crabs because of their pale color and nocturnal nature, they are mostly seen quickly scurrying down the sand. They are responsible for the holes found dug in the moist areas of the beach. The crab uses these burrows to escape the hottest part of the day, and to spend the cooler winters in some areas. They come out at night to feed on clams, and other smaller crabs. They are also a natural predator of sea turtle hatchlings. You can try to catch them if you see one, but they sure are fast!

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A Land Crab found in Christiansted National Historic Site, St. Croix

Several species of so called “land crabs” are also native in the Virgin Islands. Also called pond crabs, in the British Virgin Islands, they can grow quite large and are a popular food source here. They are the main ingredient in the popular dish called “Crab and Rice.” They can most often be found near muddy holes along the edges of mangrove swamps, salt ponds, or other perpetually damp areas. The crabs mainly live on land, having organs that get oxygen from the air rather than the water, but these crabs still live and feed near the water. Keep a lookout for these large crabs, and be sure to try some crab and rice if you can, it is a rare treat!

Stay Extreme!

-The TLE Carcinology Department

www.ziplinestthomas.com

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Categories: Culture, Food, Other Islands, Virgin Islands, Virgin Islands National Park, Wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What do you think?

We want to know what you guys would like to read here on the blog. We have some cool posts in the works about travel, surfing, climbing, and exploring. But what do you want? Is there an island you want to know more about? Perhaps and extreme sport you want us to feature? It’s all about you! Our guides and friends are a really talented bunch of folks and the possibilities are endless. So let us know in the comments what you would like to read about, and we will try to get right on it.

Remember to Stay Extreme!

-The TLE Crew

Categories: Adventure, Culture, Diving, Extreme Sports, Food, Hiking, Other Islands, Plants, Rock Climbing, Sailing, Sports, Stand Up Paddling, Surfing, Tree Limin' Extreme, Twitter, Video, Virgin Islands, Virgin Islands National Park, Weather, Wildlife, Ziplining | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Critter of the Week: Mongoose

We have a new critter of the week! This week we are taking a look at the mongoose:

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A Mongoose

Mongooses (yes, the proper plural is mongooses) are a group of small weasel like mammals, originally from Asia. Here in the West Indies, including the Virgin Islands, the species of mongoose is called the Small Indian Mongoose. Native to India, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, the mongoose was introduced to the Virgin Islands in the 1800’s. They were brought here due to their fierce predatory habits, and it was hoped that they would help to eliminate destructive rats on the sugar plantations. It is an often repeated fact here in the Virgin Islands that the tree rats are nocturnal, while mongooses hunt during the day. Mongooses also do not climb trees, so they wer not effective in controlling tree rat populations. The mongooses adapted well, though, and they are now quite common. They can be seen especially easily in the national park on St. John, and at Magens Bay on St. Thomas.

Despite the success of the species, they are still considered a destructive pest. They have no natural predators in the West Indies, and as such their population has exploded. They are especially adept at hunting snakes and lizards, and within the Caribbean, they have been responsible for no less than 7 extinctions. While dangerous to snakes, they pose virtually no threat to humans. They are quite curious though, and will often follow hikers down the trail for a bit.

Even with it’s status as a pest here, the mongoose is still a big part of local pop culture. You can find many things named after them including shopping centers, and even an anti-litter campaign mascot. The mongoose has become a classic part of Virgin Islands culture.

Come visit our islands to see a mongoose, and for a chance to see one while zipping through the trees give us a call here at Tree Limin’ Extreme at 340-777-9477, or visit our website at www.ziplinestthomas.com.

Stay Extreme!

-The TLE Zoology Unit

Categories: Adventure, Hiking, Other Islands, Virgin Islands, Virgin Islands National Park, Wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Critter of the Week: Green Iguana

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One of our resident Iguanas here at TLE

Meet the Green Iguana! If you have ever been to St. Thomas (or many of the other islands) then you have almost certainly encountered these large reptiles. They seem to be everywhere!

They aren’t small either. They can grow in excess of 4 feet in length. Quite large ones can be found all over our islands. Although large and fierce looking, they are very calm and peaceful creatures. They are actually vegetarian, mainly grazing on leaves and flowers. When cornered however, they will use their tail as a whip, and can leave painful marks. They are often found in the trees here in the Virgin Islands, and will sometimes drop  to the ground, giving some people a fright!

Iguanas have been found in the Virgin Islands since the beginning of recorded history, but are actually not native to the islands. They were brought here by Amerindians in the past for use as food. While they are still eaten in some parts of the world, they are no longer eaten here. Today, the Iguana is sometimes seen as a pest, but most often it is just another creature we share our islands with.

Want to see some of our Iguanas? We have plenty of them here at Tree Limin’ Extreme. You can say hi as you zip over them through our jungle canopy. But make sure you call for reservations at 340-777-9477.

Stay extreme!

-The TLE Herpetology Department

Categories: Virgin Islands, Wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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