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Hermit Crab Your Happy Healthy Pet

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内容提示: Your Happy Healthy Pet™(Hermit CrabAudrey Pavia01_793795 ffirs. qxp 3/16/06 6: 49 PM Page 3 01_793795 ffirs. qxp 3/16/06 6: 49 PM Page 2 Your Happy Healthy Pet™(Hermit Crab01_793795 ffirs. qxp 3/16/06 6: 49 PM Page 1 01_793795 ffirs. qxp 3/16/06 6: 49 PM Page 2 Your Happy Healthy Pet™(Hermit CrabAudrey Pavia01_793795 ffirs. qxp 3/16/06 6: 49 PM Page 3 This book is printed on acid-free paper.Copyright © 2006 by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey. All rights reserved.Howell B...

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Your Happy Healthy Pet™(Hermit CrabAudrey Pavia01_793795 ffirs. qxp 3/16/06 6: 49 PM Page 3 01_793795 ffirs. qxp 3/16/06 6: 49 PM Page 2 Your Happy Healthy Pet™(Hermit Crab01_793795 ffirs. qxp 3/16/06 6: 49 PM Page 1 01_793795 ffirs. qxp 3/16/06 6: 49 PM Page 2 Your Happy Healthy Pet™(Hermit CrabAudrey Pavia01_793795 ffirs. qxp 3/16/06 6: 49 PM Page 3 This book is printed on acid-free paper.Copyright © 2006 by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey. All rights reserved.Howell Book HousePublished by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Hoboken, New JerseyNo part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in anyform or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning or otherwise,except as permitted under Sections 107 or 108 of the 1976 United States Copyright Act, withouteither the prior written permission of the Publisher, or authorization through payment of theappropriate per-copy fee to the Copyright Clearance Center, 222 Rosewood Drive, Danvers, MA01923, (978) 750-8400, fax (978) 646-8600, or on the web at www.copyright.com. Requests tothe Publisher for permission should be addressed to the Legal Department, Wiley Publishing, Inc.,10475 Crosspoint Blvd., Indianapolis, IN 46256, (317) 572-3447, fax (317) 572-4355, or onlineat http://www.wiley.com/go/permissions.Wiley, the Wiley logo, Howell Book House, the Howell Book House logo, Your Happy HealthyPet, and related trade dress are trademarks or registered trademarks of John Wiley & Sons, Inc.and/or its affiliates in the United States and other countries, and may not be used without writtenpermission. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Wiley Publishing, Inc.is not associated with any product or vendor mentioned in this book.The publisher and the author make no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracyor completeness of the contents of this work and specifically disclaim all warranties, includingwithout limitation warranties of fitness for a particular purpose. No warranty may be created orextended by sales or promotional materials. The advice and strategies contained herein may not besuitable for every situation. This work is sold with the understanding that the publisher is notengaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional services. If professional assistance isrequired, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. Neither the publishernor the author shall be liable for damages arising here from. The fact that an organization orWebsite is referred to in this work as a citation and/or a potential source of further informationdoes not mean that the author or the publisher endorses the information the organization orWebsite may provide or recommendations it may make. Further, readers should be aware thatInternet Websites listed in this work may have changed or disappeared between when this workwas written and when it is read.For general information on our other products and services or to obtain technical support pleasecontact our Customer Care Department within the U.S. at (800) 762-2974, outside the U.S. at(317) 572-3993 or fax (317) 572-4002.Wiley also publishes its books in a variety of electronic formats. Some content that appears in printmay not be available in electronic books. For more information about Wiley products, please visitour web site at www.wiley.com.Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data:Pavia, Audrey.Hermit crab / Audrey Pavia.p. cm. — (Your happy healthy pet)ISBN-13: 978-0-471-79379-3 (cloth : alk. paper)ISBN-10: 0-471-79379-5 (alk. paper)1.Hermit crabs as pets.SF459.H47P38 2006639.67—dc22I. Title. II. Series.2006003802Printed in the United States of America10987654321Book design by Melissa Auciello-BroganCover design by Michael J. FreelandBook production by Wiley Publishing, Inc. Composition Services01_793795 ffirs. qxp 3/16/06 6: 49 PM Page 4 About the AuthorAward-winning author Audrey Pavia has been a professional pet writer since1987. A graduate of New York University, Pavia has written 17 books about petcare, including Horses For Dummies, The Gecko: An Owner’s Guide to a HappyHealthy Pet, and Guinea Pig: Y our Happy Healthy Pet. She has also written hun-dreds of articles for pet magazines, including Reptiles, Aquarium Fish, andCritters USA.In addition to writing about pets, Pavia has worked as an editor for severaldog magazines and a monthly horse publication. She lives with her husband,Randy, and an assortment of animals in Norco, California.About Howell Book HouseSince 1961, Howell Book House has been America’s premier publisher of petbooks. We’re dedicated to companion animals and the people who love them,and our books reflect that commitment. Our stable of authors—trainingexperts, veterinarians, breeders, and other authorities—is second to none. Andwe’ve won more Maxwell Awards from the Dog Writers Association of Americathan any other publisher.As we head toward the half-century mark, we’re more committed than everto providing new and innovative books, along with the classics our readers havegrown to love. This year, we’re launching several exciting new initiatives, includ-ing redesigning the Howell Book House logo and revamping our biggest petseries, Your Happy Healthy PetFrom bringing home a new puppy to competing in advanced equestrian events,Howell has the titles that keep animal lovers coming back again and again.TM, with bold new covers and updated content.01_793795 ffirs. qxp 3/16/06 6: 49 PM Page 5 ContentsPart I: The World of Hermit CrabsChapter 1 : What Is a Hermit Crab?Scientifically SpeakingHermit Crab AnatomyMobile HomeHermit Crab SocietyAll Kinds of CrabsChapter 2: The History of Hermit CrabsPrehistoric CrabsHumans and Hermit CrabsThe Future of Hermit CrabsChapter 3: Why Get a Hermit Crab?The Joys of Owning a Hermit CrabYour ResponsibilitiesThe Cuddle FactorRoutine Hermit Crab CareHermit Crabs and ChildrenChapter 4: Choosing Your Hermit CrabsWhere to Buy Your Crabs Picking Your Crabs101 3131516171 823232425282829323334373739Part II: Caring for Your Hermit CrabsChapter 5: A Home for Your Hermit CrabsEstablishing the CrabitatCrabitat AccessoriesLocationAcclimating the NewcomersIntroducing Other PetsChapter 6: Feeding Your Hermit CrabsWhat Crabs EatGreat Foods for Your Hermit CrabsRecipes for Hermit CrabsServing the FoodWater4446465358596061616468697002_793795 ftoc. qxp 3/16/06 6: 49 PM Page 6 Chapter 7: Your Hermit Crab’s ShellSelecting ShellsShells for Your CrabsAvoiding Shell FightsKeeping Shells WetChapter 8: Keeping Your Hermit Crabs HealthyPrevention Is EverythingSigns of a Sick CrabCrab TroublesWhat Healthy Crabs NeedMolting7272757879808081818891Part III: Enjoying Your Hermit CrabsChapter 9: Hermit Crab BehaviorSocializingEatingSelf-GroomingClimbingDiggingAggressionCrab SoundsHidingShell SwappingChapter 1 0: Having Fun with Your Hermit Crabs 1 06HandlingHand FeedingPlaytimeTraveling with Your CrabsMeeting Other Crab OwnersAppendix: Learning More About Your Hermit CrabsSome Good BooksEducationOnline ResourcesIndex969898999910010110210310310510610810911 11141 1 61161171171 2102_793795 ftoc. qxp 3/16/06 6: 49 PM Page 7 °Shopping ListYou’ll need to do a bit of stocking up before you bring your hermit crab home.Below is a basic list of some must-have supplies. For more detailed informationon selecting each item below, consult chapter 5. For specific guidance on whatfood you’ll need, review chapter 6. Tank with secure, partially vented topSmall plastic travel carrierTwo shallow water dishesTank heaterSubstrate Humidity gaugeHiding placesTemperature gaugeClimbing placesNatural sea spongeFood dishWater conditionersCommercial crab foodShellsMisterDecorationsThere are likely to be a few other items that you’re dying to pick up beforebringing your hermit crab home. Use the following blanks to note any addi-tional items you’ll be shopping for. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________03_793795 flast. qxp 3/16/06 6: 50 PM Page 8 Pet Sitter’s GuideWe can be reached at (___)_____-________ Cellphone (___)_____-_____________________________________________________________________We will return on ____________ (date) at ____________ (approximate time)Other individual to contact in case of emergency _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________Number of hermit crabs we have: __________________________________Care InstructionsIn the following sections, let the sitter know what to feed, how much, and when;what tasks need to be performed daily; and what weekly tasks they’ll be respon-sible for. Morning ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________Evening _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________Other tasks and special instructions ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________03_793795 flast. qxp 3/16/06 6: 50 PM Page 9 04_793795 pt01. qxp 3/16/06 6: 48 PM Page 10 Part IThe World ofHermit Crabs04_793795 pt01. qxp 3/16/06 6: 48 PM Page 11 AntennaEyeAbdomenWalking LegsFifth LegCarapaceChelipedShellAntennaeChelipedCarapaceWalking LegsEyeThe Hermit Crab05_793795 ch01. qxp 3/16/06 6: 50 PM Page 12 Chapter 1What Is aHermit Crab?Nshells of other sea creatures, hermit crabs carry their homes around on theirbacks while prowling seashores and tide pools looking for morsels to eat. Wildhermit crabs have long been the subject of documentaries and cartoons, and areamong the most beloved of all sea creatures.Hermit crabs are not only fascinating as a species, they also make wonderfulpets. Fun to watch and easy to care for, they are the first pet of choice for manychildren. They have also won the hearts of adults the world over.early everyone knows what a hermit crablooks like. These charming creatures have been knownby humans for centuries. Famous for their ability to inhabit the abandonedScientifically SpeakingHermit crabs are members of the Arthropoda phylum, which means they arerelated to spiders, insects, and lobsters. But unlike these other arthropods, her-mit crabs are crustaceans and therefore have two sets of antennae instead of one.All arthropods have segmented bodies and jointed legs. Their bodies consistof a head, a thorax, and an abdomen. Hermit crabs also have four antennae, twoeyes, a large left claw, and a small right claw. In addition to the claws, a total ofeight jointed legs can be found on the hermit crab, four on each side of thebody. Of those eight legs, only four are actually used for walking.1305_793795 ch01. qxp 3/16/06 6: 50 PM Page 13 Part IThe World ofHermit Crabs14A CrustaceanThe hermit crab is a crustacean,which means it is part of the sameclass as shrimp, lobsters, and truecrabs. (True crabs have short, hardabdomens, which set them apartfrom hermit crabs.) Hermit crabs aremembers of the Coenobitidae family,which has two genera: Coenobita andBirgus latro. Coenobita is made up ofeleven species of land crab, but thehermit crab is in a genus all his own,Birgus latro.As a crustacean, the hermit crab wears his skeleton on the outside of his body.This exoskeleton is made of areas of thick tissue and softer, more delicate tissue.In the hermit crab, the thick tissue can be found on the animal’s claws and torso.The crab’s abdomen is covered with the softer exoskeleton, which is why heneeds the protection of a “borrowed” shell. As the hermit crab grows, he must shed his exoskeleton to make room for thenew tissue beneath it. This process is called molting.Crab ScienceScientific classification of hermitcrabs:Phylum: ArthropodaClass: CrustaceaOrder: DecapodaFamily: CoenobitidaeGenus: Birgus latroHermit crabs who live on land cannot survive underwater. In the wild, they find their f ood on theground and in trees.05_793795 ch01. qxp 3/16/06 6: 50 PM Page 14 Chapter 1What Is a Hermit Crab?15Hermit crabs sometimes lose their legs or eyes in fights and when they aresick or stressed. If the environment is safe and secure and the crab survives thefight or illness, the missing appendage will likely grow back.Hermit Crab AnatomyThe body of the hermit crab is quite different from that of mammals.• Abdomen. The abdominal area of the hermit crab is soft andrequires protection from a borrowed shell. The abdomen is slightlycurved when outside a shell, but will fold into a tight curve to fitinside a shell home. The digestive and reproductive organs of thecrab are located inside his abdomen.• Antennae. The hermit crab has two pairs of antennae that he uses tosense his environment. The antennae are located just below the eyesand consist of one pair of long feelers and one pair of short feelers.• Claws. The hermit crab has two claws, called chelipeds. The leftclaw is known as the pincher, and is the larger of the two. It is usedto close up the opening of the shell when the crab wishes to retreatinside for safety, and for defense. The smaller claw is used mostly foreating and drinking. • Eyes. Hermit crabs have two eyes, which sit at the end of eye stalksthat protrude from the front of the head. The stalks can move toenable the crab to see in different directions. The eyes are com-pound, which means they are made up of many small lenses. Theimages the crab sees are composed of tiny pieces.• Gills. Although the hermit crab is not a fish, he does have gills on thesides of his body. These gills are usually tucked into the shell and areused for breathing air; hermit crabs cannot breathe underwater.However, the gills must be kept moist to enable the crab to breathe. • Legs. Hermit crabs have four pairs of legs that are used for gettingaround. Two of these legs protrude from the front of the shell andenable the crab to walk. The back two legs stay inside the shell andhelp anchor the crab’s body.• Mouth. The mouth of the hermit crab is made up of threeappendages. The crab uses these appendages to put food into anopening that leads to the digestive system. The appendages worklike small hands, helping the crab hold and tear food.05_793795 ch01. qxp 3/16/06 6: 50 PM Page 15 Part IThe World ofHermit Crabs16Land CreaturesThere are land hermit crabs and aquatic ones (see “Aquatic Hermit Crabs” onpage 20). Land hermit crabs differ from their aquatic cousins in the obvious waythat they live primarily on solid ground. Although they need proximity to theocean to survive in the wild, hermit crabs will drown if they are kept in anaquatic environment.Hermit crabs who live on land have small gills but cannot survive underwa-ter. The gills should be kept moist, however, which is one reason it’s so impor-tant to provide a warm, humid environment for hermit crabs kept in captivity.Land hermit crabs spend much of their time patrolling their environment forfood. In the wild, they feed off the ground and in trees, shoveling food into theirmouths using their claws. They are omnivorous scavengers, and their diet con-sists of decaying plant and animal material. This includes dried leaves, rottenfruit, carcasses, and even feces.Mobile HomeHermit crabs are famous for carrying shells around on their backs that don’tbelong to them. Because the hermit crab has a soft abdomen, he is vulnerable topredators if that part of the body isn’t covered. Hermit crabs solve this problemby occupying the shells of gastropods that have died. These may be the shells ofsea snails, conches, or other animals. Some hermit crabs have been found wear-ing fossilized shells from marine creatures that lived eons ago.Modern hermit crabs who live in the ocean have also taken to using humangarbage to house their delicate abdomens. Hermit crabs have been seen wearingbottlenecks, plastic containers, and other discarded items. Hermit crabs use these shells by tucking their abdomens into the hollowspace and then closing up the opening with their pincher claw. They sleep inthis position and retreat this way when they feel threatened. When hermit crabsare eating, they extend their heads, their two front claws, and two legs on eachside. They amble around using the four extended legs. The four legs that arehidden inside the shell are used to keep the shell in place over the crab’sabdomen.Hermit crabs outgrow their shells as they age and must find new shells toprotect their delicate abdomens. Crabs will fight one another for a desirableshell. More aggressive crabs will literally pull weaker crabs out of a shell, and inthe wild, will sometimes remove dying gastropods from their shells to gainaccess. 05_793795 ch01. qxp 3/16/06 6: 50 PM Page 16 Chapter 1What Is a Hermit Crab?17Hermit Crab SocietyHermit crabs are very sociable creatures, despite their name, and live in groupsin the wild. They enjoy being with members of their own species and develophierarchies within their group. Some crabs are more dominant than others andwill show their dominance by pushing each other around.Hermit crabs also have a voice and will make a chirping sound when the sit-uation warrants it. They use this vocalization with other crabs and sometimeswith their humans.Evening is the most active time for hermit crabs, who prefer to eat and social-ize after the sun goes down.Love LifeIn the wild, all hermit crabs breed in the ocean. Male hermit crabs are knownfor dragging their mates around as they fight off other male crabs who want tomate with their female. When the female begins molting, the male breeds withher and fertilizes the eggs that she carries outside her body.The female carries 800 to 1,200 fertilized eggs on the outside of herabdomen until they hatch. The young hermit crabs emerge from the eggs justbefore the full moon of the month after the eggs were fertilized, and only comeout of their eggs when the female crab is submerged in seawater. Hermit crabs find their shells in their environment and switch to bigger ones as they grow.05_793795 ch01. qxp 3/16/06 6: 50 PM Page 17 Part IThe World ofHermit Crabs18The baby crabs, known as larvae, must mature through several stages over aperiod of about two months. They start out as free-swimming creatures andeventually grow into crabs who can walk on the shore. Hermit crabs have never been bred successfully in captivity, since their eggswill only hatch in the ocean.All Kinds of CrabsAbout 500 hermit crab species can be found in various parts of the world,including the Caribbean, South America, and Australia. Each of these species isunique in appearance, and often in behavior.Hermit crabs vary in size, from less than an inch to as big as 1 foot. Colorsand markings are also varied in the hermit crab world; hermit crabs come inred, brown, purple, and other colors, and sometimes have stripes, spots, orother patterns.Most CommonThe most popular pet hermit crabs are land crabs, which means they live mostlyon land near seashores and tide pools. Several species of land hermit crabs aresold in North America. The two most common species sold in pet stores in theUnited States are from the Caribbean and Ecuador. The Caribbean species isalso sold in resort areas in that part of the world. Because individual hermit crab species are known by many popular names, Ihave listed them here by their scientific names.Coenobita clypeatusThe most common land hermit crab available in the United States is Coenobitaclypeatus. Also known as the West Atlantic land hermit crab, Caribbean landcrab, purple pincher crab, purple claw crab, tree crab, and soldier crab, thisspecies can be found in many colors, including purple, red, and brown. They arenative to the Bahamas, Belize, Venezuela, the Virgin Islands, the West Indies,and the Florida Keys, and are the species of crab most often sold at beachsidestands.C. clypeatus are nocturnal crabs and hide in leaves or under wet sand duringthe day to preserve moisture in their shells. Although they prefer living in beachareas, they may stray inland to look for food and search for snail shells. They also climb trees looking for food. C. clypeatus prefer to scavenge on the ground,05_793795 ch01. qxp 3/16/06 6: 50 PM Page 18 Chapter 1What Is a Hermit Crab?19however, where they eat dead plants and animals, overripe fruit, and even thefeces of other animals. Coenobita compressusMore commonly known as the Ecuadorian hermit crab, Coenobita compressusis the smallest of land hermit crabs. These crabs like salt water even morethan other types of land hermit crabs kept in captivity. They enjoy diggingand need deep substrate so they can burrow. They are native to the westcoasts of North and South America. In the wild, they scour beaches at nightlooking for food.Coenobita compressus (top) and Coenobita clypeatus (bottom) are the two most common species sold as pets.05_793795 ch01. qxp 3/16/06 6: 50 PM Page 19 Part IThe World ofHermit Crabs20The pincher claw of C. compressus is smaller than that of most other commonland hermit crab species, so these crabs prefer shells with narrower openingsthan those preferred by other species. C. compressus will live peacefully with other types of hermit crabs, althoughhe prefers living with members of his own species.Less CommonHermit crabs that can be found in the United States but are not as commoninclude several species that are native to the African coast and nearby islands.Coenobita brevimanus Another hermit crab sometimes found in the pet trade is Coenobita brevimanus,commonly referred to as the Indonesian hermit crab. Native to islands on theeast coast of Africa and Indonesia, this crab is the largest of the Coenobita genusAquatic Hermit CrabsLand hermit crabs are the most commonly kept hermit crab petsbecause they are easy to care for. But aquatic hermit crabs canalso be kept in captivity—in saltwater aquariums. These crabsmay share their home with clown fish, damsel fish, and other trop-ical marine fish. Because aquatic crabs spend all their lives in theocean, they fit right in as part of a marine community fish tank.In the wild, aquatic hermit crabs are found all over the world.They are part of the ocean ecosystem and contribute by scav-enging in tide pools, reef shallows, and on the ocean floor. Aquatic hermit crabs feed on decayed plant matter, algae,and fish food that falls to the bottom of an aquarium. Thisbehavior makes them welcome additions to many aquariums,because they help keep the water clean.The intertidal hermit crab is another type of crab found inthe wild. A member of the Diogenidae family, this crab lives intide pools throughout the world. These crabs require a com-plex habitat and are not generally kept in captivity. 05_793795 ch01. qxp 3/16/06 6: 50 PM Page 20 Chapter 1What Is a Hermit Crab?21and weighs about half a pound at maturity. In the wild, these crabs get bigenough to use coconuts instead of seashells for their homes. Very social with members of their own species, these crabs enjoy plenty ofhiding spaces where they can camp out during the day.Coenobita cavipesSometimes known as the concave hermit crab or the red hermit crab, Coenobitacavipes is native to the sandy beaches of eastern Africa. Because these crabs areon the large side, they prefer the abandoned shells of giant African snails.These very active crabs make good pets. They enjoy climbing and come in avariety of colors.Coenobita perlatusNative to Madagascar, Coenobita perlatus is also known as the strawberry hermitcrab because of its reddish orange colors. These crabs also have white spots ontheir legs.These sociable crabs enjoy climbing and visiting with members of their ownspecies. They also love to dig in their substrate.Where there are tropical beaches, there are hermit crabs.05_793795 ch01. qxp 3/16/06 6: 50 PM Page 21 Part IThe World ofHermit Crabs22Coenobita rugosusThese white or gray hermit crabs are native to eastern Africa and the Indo-Pacific region, where they live on sandy beaches and depend on turtle carcassesfor much of their diet. Nicknamed ruggies because of their scientific name, they tend to be a littleless active than other land hermit crabs. This species seems to get along well withother crabs and enjoys climbing.Coenobitidae birgus latroAlso known as the coconut crab or robber crab, Coenobeitidae birgus latro is thelargest of the hermit crabs. They can grow to weigh as much as 10 pounds andreach 3 feet in diameter. C. birgus latro is known as the coconut crab becausethese big guys can crack coconuts with their pinchers. These crabs also use theirclaws to climb coconut trees to get at the fruit. Besides coconuts, this crab eats rotting leaves and other fruit.C. birgus latro is native to tropical islands in the Pacific and Indian Oceans,and lives in coconut groves and in beach vegetation in the wild. C. birgus latrohas been known to wander far from the ocean, and has been found in areas ashigh as several hundred feet above sea level. C. birgus latro likes to dig in substrate. They come in red or black.05_793795 ch01. qxp 3/16/06 6: 50 PM Page 22 Chapter 2The Historyof HermitCrabsThe hermit crab has an intriguing history, taking us back millions of years.When you look at a hermit crab, you are looking back in time to a periodlong before there were humans.Prehistoric CrabsHermit crabs are crustaceans, and so share the same early history as shrimp, lob-sters, and other shelled sea creatures. Prehistoric barnacles, which appeared during the Pre-Cambrian period of thePaleozoic Era, are the earliest known crustaceans. The Pre-Cambrian periodextends from the birth of our planet to 540 million years ago, making crus-taceans among the oldest creatures on Earth. According to the fossil record, hermit crabs didn’t appear until theCretaceous period, 144 to 65 million years ago. Many hermit crab fossils havebeen discovered with the crab lying near the shell she inhabited. It is rare for sci-entists to find a fossil of a hermit crab still in her shell. The reason for this is thatmany of the hermit crabs who died to create these fossils were slowly buriedwith sediment at the time of their death. In an effort to climb out of the sedi-ment, the crabs abandoned their shells (originally the shells of the prehistoricarthropod, the ammonite) and began digging to the surface. They died in theprocess of trying to escape the sand that had enveloped them, leaving behind afossil record of their struggle.2306_793795 ch02. qxp 3/16/06 6: 50 PM Page 23 Part IThe World ofHermit Crabs24Other fossil records of hermit crabs include drag traces, which are essentiallyfossilized footprints of hermit crabs. These drag traces consist of marks in thestone that indicate a hermit crab walked through the sand at that spot. Fossils of hermit crabs look very much like today’s hermit crabs. It’s safe tosay that hermit crabs have hardly changed at all since prehistoric times.Humans and Hermit CrabsWe don’t know exactly when human beings first started keeping hermit crabs aspets, but it probably started a long time ago. Hermit crabs are easy to capture inthe wild and are easy to keep in captivity, so it stands to reason that people inbeach areas have been taking these animals home as pets for many, many years.Hermit Crab MythologyBecause hermit crabs have been around so long, and because they are such fasci-nating creatures, it’s not surprising that these endearing creatures have foundtheir way into the mythology of various cultures over the centuries.The ancient Greeks, for example, believed in a sea goddess named Skylla whohad the upper body of a woman, the tail of fish, and six shark heads around herwaist. Homer wrote about Skylla, a monster who prayed on passing sailors, inthe Odyssey. She was believed to be the goddess of hermit crabs, whose Greekname is skyllaroi.In North America, the Nootka peoples of the Pacific Northwest have a godnamed Tihtipihin who was the father of all hermit crabs. Tihtipihin and hisbrother, Kwatyat, allowed themselves to be swallowed by a monster so theycould rescue their mother, who had also been swallowed. Once inside the mon-ster, they cut through the monster’s stomach and helped their mother to escape.Hermit crabs have been living on the island of Guam for thousands of years,and, according to legend, Guamanians have developed a way to communicatewith them. They claim that by standing in front of the crab, looking her in theeyes, and saying “duk-duk-duk-duk-duk” (duk is the name for hermit crab inChamoru, the native language of Guam), you can get the crab to leave the safetyof her shell. Hermit crabs have been the stuff of legend for centuries, and they still makethe news in modern times. Stories of hermit crabs who fled to high ground wellbefore the Asian tsunami of 2004 struck abound in Thailand and other areaswhere the giant waves hit. Given the hermit crab’s deep connection to the sea,it’s not hard to believe that these primitive creatures sensed the deadly wavescoming.06_793795 ch02. qxp 3/16/06 6: 50 PM Page 24 Chapter 2The History of Hermit Crabs25Celebrity CrabsHermit crabs have long been a favorite of children, who are fascinated by thebehavior of these shell-swapping creatures. As a result, there is no shortage ofbooks and cartoons about hermit crabs.Children’s book authors find hermit crabs to be irresistible subjects foradventure. Writer Andrea Weathers made a hermit crab the subject of her book,Hermy the Hermit Crab Goes Shopping, which tells the tale of an adventuroushermit crab from South Carolina. Hector the Hermit Crab, by Katie Boyce, isanother children’s book that highlights the growing pains of a shy hermit crab.In the Disney film The Little Mermaid, children around the globe fell inlove with Sebastian, the crab who served as King Triton’s court composer andconductor.Television’s wildly popular SpongeBob SquarePants cartoon also has a crab ina prominent role. Named Mr. Krabs, this whimsical crab is the owner of TheKrusty Krab, the fast-food restaurant that employs SpongeBob.The Future of Hermit CrabsLike many creatures that inhabit the sea and its surroundings, wild hermit crabsare suffering from human influence on their environment. Many tropical localesHermit crabs are ancient animals, perf ectly adapted to the environments in which they live.06_793795 ch02. qxp 3/16/06 6: 50 PM Page 25 Part IThe World ofHermit Crabs26that are home to land hermit crabs are experiencing the destruction of seashorehabitat. Mangroves, which provide food and shelter to hermit crabs, are beingcleared in vast numbers to make room for seaside hotels and condominiums.This leaves the hermit crabs in these areas with nowhere to live.Some areas where hermit crabs live have so much beach traffic that the crabsare finding a shortage of empty shells to inhabit. Shell collectors gather up theempty shells they find in tide pools and along the beach, leaving the hermitcrabs without enough potential homes.Another threat to hermit crabs in the wild comes from overcollecting.Since hermit crabs do not breed in captivity, all hermit crabs sold in pet storesand through other sources are harvested from the wild. If crabs are gatheredfaster than they can reproduce, the population of crabs in a given area will suf-fer. (Unfortunately, many of the crabs who are captured and sold into captiv-ity end up dying soon after because their new owners don’t know how to takecare of them.)In some parts of the world, hermit crabs are collected for food. Native peo-ples who rely on the sea for their suste...

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