Hermit crabs can be a tempting potential pet, especially for kids. After all, the small crustaceans seem mysterious but cute in their small shells, and the plastic houses and other accessories that are usually right alongside them for purchase make the whole prospect of owning a hermit crab seem like a fun adventure.
But, the truth is, that many of the little crabs have sad, short lives.
Researchers have found it challenging to successfully raise hermit crab eggs in their labs. As a result, all hermit crabs sold are wild-caught from beaches around the world and then shipped.
From the time they leave the beach, they are denied proper food, water, and environment. Wild hermit crabs live many, many decades. Yet, those purchased as pets typically die within a few months due to improper care.
One organization, however, is attempting to change things for the better.
Founded in 1999, the mission of the Land Hermit Crab Owners Society is to make accurate and easily accessible care information widespread by forming a network of websites that follow the C.A.R.E. principles of Community, Awareness/Activism, Research/Rescue and Education.
LHCOS’ goals include input on products developed for hermit crab care, ensuring pet stores and owners understand proper care methods, and working with the best zoos around the world to establish proper hermit crab habitats and breeding programs.
The LHCOS website provides a number of educational resources, including:
The Crab Street Journal, which features:
•Hermit Crab Emergency Help,
•a Hermit Crab Newbies Guide,
•information about why painted shells are cruel.
The organization also promotes awareness through events, including the International Land Hermit Crab Owners Society Convention, or Crab Con, which took place in Lockport, New York, July 12-14, 2019. For more on Crab Con, visit: https://crabstreetjournal.org/blog/2019/07/25/2019-crab-con-epilogue/
On Aug. 14, LHCOS representatives will attend the Miss Crustacean Pageant in Ocean City, New Jersey to provide care information to new hermit crab owners. According to NJ.com, the pageant, first held in 1973 and attended by thousands, honors and promotes responsible hermit crab ownership. Also according to NJ.com, the winner of the pageant receives “the illustrious Cucumber Rind Cup, the Stanley Cup of trophies for hermit crabs.”
For more about the pageant, check out the LHCOS Facebook page.
Hermit crab factoids from the LHCOS:
•Only two species are found natively in the U.S. Coenobita clypeatus is found in the Caribbean and Coenobita compressus is found in Southern California.
•Numerous other species are found in the tropics around the world, including the cousin to Coenobita, the coconut crab or robber crab (Birgus latro).
•Land hermit crabs have a modified gill that allows them to breathe air after they transition from megalopa to hermit crab. They require a humid, warm environment to survive and deep sand to molt in.
•Coenobita clypeatus has been sold as a pet, or beach souvenirs, since the 1970s.
•The most famous hermit crab in captivity is Jonathon Livingston who has lived with his human, Carol Ormes, in Miami since 1976. They have been featured in the news on several occasions.