Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Hermit Crabs

Funny story, a few months ago I randomly and quite suddenly ended up with a hermit crab. This is Harold;

Before anyone lectures me about the red sand and painted shell, keep reading...

Harold's original owner had a cat and they weren't getting along with Harold, and I previously had a few hermit crabs (when I was 8 or 9), so now Harold is my buddy. Of course, the reason it has been decades since my last hermit crab buddies is because they didn't seem to move much, and then they'd die after a month or two. Tons of reasons for this - I was a little kid, I was relying on the brightly colored things that the hermit crab came with at the pet store, I didn't have the internet back then,...but now I am an adult, with the ability to buy whatever/whenever, I can google how to properly care for a hermit crab (in theory), and I had a real desire to care of what (who) is now a part of my life. 

Got Harold out of the dyed red sand, got him a decent habitat, shared some grapes with him;

Harold really seems to enjoy grapes

Since hermit crabs are actually social creatures, I brought home Tabitha, 
who got along great with Harold;

In my spare time I've been trying to create a fun and sustainable habitat. This first version was all about triangle huts, which worked great as huts if you're Tabitha, and after hearing a repetitive *thud* sound every few minutes coming from the tank I found out that Harold enjoyed climbing to the top and then letting go, crashing into whatever was below - The triangles were later cut down into trapezoids and Harold would just [safely] chill on top.

Late night adventuring, with Harold 

Once I was positive that Harold and Tabitha had had the basics well managed, I got a little more into the hermit crab thing. Upped the size of the tank so there was room for a salt water bath and more hermit crabs. Then came Gus;

Gus tightrope walking across a Popsicle stick for no apparent reason,
I was impressed
 Spend the night running marathons through the tank, spend the day cuddle napping

After watching every single crab reject the one spare shell that was sent along with Harold, and knowing that shells are kind of import to these little guys, I went back to Google to figure out how to guess what a nice shell looks like.
Calling it, "Shell Christmas", every crab was given one or two shells that I thought they might want to move into. Harold finally ditched that [possibly toxic] painted blue shell.
Tabitha actually picked two new shells, and kept her original shell (she switched daily until she molted). Gus just likes the shell he came with, and that's cool too. (be who you wanna be, live in what you wanna live in). 

One evening, I realized that they watched me watching T.V.

Had a big enough tank for 5 hermit crabs, so I tried introducing two more - This is where things got complicated.

Big Louise;

Don't get me wrong, Big Louise is a very nice and beautiful hermit crab. The day I brought home Gus, she was at the pet store and I would have brought her home then, but she just seemed too big to safely move into my tank. The next time I went to buy a crab though, the guy at the store commented that this one was the only one left in the tank, and he did that whole "Trust me", thing - had me believing that she would get along with everybody just fine....About an hour into meeting the others she tried to rip Harold out of his shell. ><  I immediately got her into a separate tank and did some reading - Given more time she might have been able to fit in, but seeing as Harold is the whole reason this adventure started, I couldn't risk him being hurt. I did the responsible pet owner thing and found another enthusiastic pet owner to be friends with her. I get updates on how she's doing...I sort of have a hermit crab pen pal now. She's doing well. 

And then there's this cutie (Morpheus);

He saw Harold's old shell and got excited, because, shell! ^_^

  This is Morpheus, the tinniest member of my hermit crab community. Kind of thought he was dead at the pet store (I was assured that he was just really pale and probably asleep), I found him while the pet store guy was telling me that Big Louise was the only crab in the tank. Didn't want to ditch either lone crab, so I brought this little one home too and gave him a big name like Morpheus. Fed him and stuff, gave him a salt water bath and he brightened right up. He's very much alive and healthy, and really cute too. Plus the other crabs accepted him immediately, which is always nice to see. My only complaint is that he refuses to be photographed, runs off and blurs every time. ><

Now that my hermit crab community is a little more established they're all mellowed out and fallen into their own little hermit crab routines. A couple of them molted, Tabitha's molt had me thinking she was dead for a weekend, Gus's molt went just fine. Occasionally I take what I believe to be a cute photo and share it with my friends - My friends either think I'm nuts or are enjoying the pics, I can never tell.


I do enjoy these animals, and so much more than I thought I would. Granted there are lists of reasons not to have hermit crabs, but I was given Harold, and the rest are the happy healthy crew I brought together. Part of me wants to recommend them as delightful pets, part of me didn't even want to share this experience out of concern that it will result in several misguided attempts at pet ownership as soon as someone reads this. So what I am going to do is end this with some solid advice: IF YOU REALLY WANT A PET HERMIT CRAB - Do some research first. Make sure you can take care of them. Make sure you don't just put one alone in a tank (they need buddies). Make sure you actually want/can afford/have the time to take care of your pet. AND understand that as amused as I am by these little guys - They sleep most of the day, and have quite a few boring moments.

Possibly more pics of hermit crab adventures to come, so stay tuned. ^_^