Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Hermit Crabs!

I believe the key to proper socialization of a puppy might just be to involve them in every possible crazy activity your family does.  Luckily around here we are never too short on crazy activities.

This week it was time for our annual deep clean of our hermit crab tank.  If you are thinking of those hermit crab habitats you buy at the mall or the pet store with a little plastic palm tree and some sand then you should think again!  Sadly most hermit crabs sold in stores are destined to a slow and painful death at the uninformed hands of their new owners.  Even the major chains (aka petco and petsmart) send people away with horrible information about their crabs.  Since I am not here to lecture you about proper hermit crab care I will just leave you with a few facts and urge anyone currently owning or looking to own a hermit crab to visit The Hermit Crab Association for more information.

Crab Facts-
  • All land hermit crabs in captivity are wild caught.  Scientist and hobbyist alike have been spending decades attempting to breed crabs in captivity but all attempts have been unsuccessful.  In fact we do not even know what happens to baby hermit crabs during the aquatic stage of their life.  That crab in the mall may have traveled the oceans far and wide before it's little adult stage body washed up on shore and it found it's first shell.
  • Land hermit crabs can live for 20+ years if cared for properly.
  • Crabs need substrate at least twice as deep as their shell is tall so they can properly molt.
  • The calcium sand sold as "crab sand" in the pet store kills crabs.
  • Land hermit crabs need to be able to fully submerge in water from time to time and require both fresh and salt water to survive long term.
 This is "Big Red" she is one of my favorite crabs and is our biggest by far.  The pictures don't really show size, but she is BIG!  So big that when Kerrigan was just 14 weeks old I found her sitting on the stairs whining and shaking.  She had seen Big Red climbing around in the tank and did not like what she saw!  In reality Big Red probably is older than Kerrigan's great grandmother but being a crab she lacks the size and central nervous system to pose any real threat to even the smallest puppy.  I walked over to the tank and said "Don't worry Kerrigan, that's just Big Red, she can't get you."  Then went back to watching TV.  Kerri never whined at the crabs again because I showed no fear myself and just ignored her issue.  Through my example she learned not to be scared of hermit crabs and I learned that with a puppy everything is a teachable moment.

I won't bore you with all the details of the deep clean, but it is a process.  We spent nearly 7 hours carefully removing hermit crabs and carefully chasing fiddler crabs back to the 30 gallon brackish water tank on one end of the greater hermit crab tank (this is a bit of a "project" tank, don't think you need a fish tank to keep these crabs happy, but they do appreciate their occasional swims over there I think).  In the end I everything ended up looking pretty nice.

 Did I mention the tank is massive?  Kerrigan did a good job of staying out of trash bags, redirecting to appropriate toys and not pestering us while we were cleaning.  Copley spent most of the last several hours staring at me making this perticular face.
I think he is trying really, really, really, really hard to figure out what we are doing and/or thinking.  The idea of keeping pet hermit crabs seems to be totally beyond his comprehension.

Before you see this last picture I must stress that all the animals had been removed from the tank and this is just a pile of dirty sand and coconut fiber.  Also it was nearly 2am and I had been carefully scraping sand out of a tank with a soup spoon for many hours.  Both of us may have lost our minds by this point.
In conclusion I hope you take these two points away from this very long post.  1. Land Hermit crabs are really cool.  2. Introduce you puppy to as many new thing as possible- even if those thing are shells and sand and 5 gallon buckets.

1 comment:

  1. BOL that's hilarious! I have a hermit crab, his name is George, and I love playing with him
    Dachshund Nola