Monday, February 13, 2006

Come out of Your Shell!

Weekly Trivia Topic: Hermit crabs

We have one of these little critters. He's small, about the size of cherry tomato. He spends a lot of his time under the sand or up in the little plastic palm tree in his habitat. If you ever wanted a pet that requires almost no care, the hermit crab is for you. The most important thing you have to monitor is the water. They need a humid environment. Otherwise, they eat so little that you only need to check food once a week or so.

Anyway, on to the trivia which I got from hermit-crabs.com:

The name 'hermit' is misapplied to our little friends -- they are quite gregarious and like to be around their own kind. In the wild, they travel in packs of up to 100 crabs, scavenging the beach for food and shells. The reason they travel in packs is simple: Where there are more crabs, there are more shells. Researchers have found by putting one clean, empty shell on the beach, they can initiate a "cascade" of shells changes: One crab changes in to the new shell, another changes into his old shell, and another changes into the other empty shell, and so on.

It isn't enough that hermit crabs make the neatest sound, a cross between a creaky bed, a rusty door hinge, a croaking frog and a chirping bird.

Believe it or not, after it molts, the crab (after its claws have adequately hardened) will eat its old skin. The ‘old’ skin is full of nutrients such as calcium and especially the important skin-hardening agent chitin.

The best diet for a land hermit crab is basically what you feed yourself (with a few additions and exclusions). Land hermit crabs are omnivorous and therefore eat just about anything. You can feed them meat, fish, vegetables and fruit (yes even citrus fruit!).

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