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Campus Legends: The Owyhee Land Crab

The Owyhee Land Crab (sometimes called Ta’-Bo’a in old times) is a rare, land dwelling crustacean found exclusively in the high desert areas of the Owyhee wilderness. Often seen, but hardly recognized these large crabs spend a majority of their lives in deep dormant states, only rising in times of torrential rain every 15 years, and are thereby frequently mistaken for common boulders.

Ranging from ruddy reds to drab dark grey, their thick, hard shells almost exactly mimic the texture of rhyolite stones of their environment. About the size of a small mandarin orange on hatching, the Owyhee Land Crab generally grows to about 10-15 feet across over their expansive lifetimes, which can span hundreds of years.

legends of the owyheeWhile primarily nocturnal ambush predators when active, the Owyhee Land Crab is an omnivore of opportunity and will not hesitate to feed on sagebrush and other plants when game is scarce.

Easily capable of taking down prey equal to or larger than itself, these desert decapods will grab anything that comes within reach of their crushing claws. Many missing cattle were no doubt blamed on natives or rustlers who in fact fell prey to these quietly creeping killers…

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