Hermit Crabs


Kermit and Gilda, sittin’ in a …. cocohut. Today, just a few days after the August full moon, I’m seeing the first signs of guarding/mating behavior in my large tank housing all of my adult clypeatus. This time it is Kermit (as usual) and Gilda (a female crab who came to me as a male, and was formerly known as Guido). They mated last year, but I don’t believe she spawned correctly, so we’ll see how it goes this year. Lola and Artemis are usually first in line to mate with Kermit, and I did hear a lot of chirping earlier in the week, but didn’t witness anything firsthand as I have lots of hiding areas in my tank. But Artemis is definitely acting broody already, so I’m guessing Gilda isn’t the first to succumb to Kermit’s...

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Crab Con (IN-PERSON) isn’t looking good this year, like so many other planned gatherings. I will make a formal, definite decision soon, but please know that if we can’t meet in person, we will definitely have a virtual conference–and the plus side of that is that then anyone can attend. 🙂 My Caribbean crabs (clypeatus) are all down and I will have “Pet Sand” in there for the foreseeable future. I am in the process of moving all of my tanks to a ground-floor level room, though, so once they come up they will be getting an all-new setup. The exotics (perlatus and lila) are in a new 90-gallon tank with huge water features and they are loving it. One of the strawberry females is now carrying eggs. Not sure when she will drop, but we do have a full moon approaching, so I’m getting prepared in case it’s soon. Also…we rather unexpectedly reached a whole new level this week in terms of furthering and expanding the breeding program. My friend Kelly Kurtz (who is also a fellow crab keeper) lives about 5 hours away and got an unexpected spawn in her saltwater pool in a tank that houses mostly exotics. She’d seen some unusual behavior from her straws and violas the previous week, and so we are thinking (and hoping!) that the zoeae came from one (or both!) of them. (It’s also generally not the season yet for PPs to spawn.) Have zoeae, will travel. So…baby crab lovers that we are, we both scrambled to find a way to get the zoeae here. She rushed to siphon them out of her saltwater pool, purchase large Mason jars, an extra air pump, an inverter for her car to power the air pump, splitters for the airline tubing, and a whole bunch of sticky hand warmers to put on the jars for warmth. She then put the jars in a box and hit the road (with her seat-warmer on high because the temperature was only in the 40s). While she was doing that, I was getting the kreisel ready, mixing saltwater, setting up a holding tank for aerated, warmed, filtered saltwater, locating their special foods, and then I hit the road, too. We met in the middle, handed off the larvae, and I sped home. Only trouble was, there were three jars and only one splitter. So for the third jar, I inserted a pipette through the hole in the lid and every five minutes or so reached over and gave the bulb a couple of squeezes to shuffle the zoeae around, making sure to shoot some air bubbles in...

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February 14, 2020 2018 baby, 18 months old. The babies from the 2018 spawn are now 18 months old and some are really starting to look like small adult crabs. It’s hard to believe I used to pick them up in an eyedropper. Others, from the same brood, are still quite small. The 2019 adopters and I are working together to try and figure out the reason(s) this very different growth may be happening. It’s mysterious, as it’s not tank specific. For instance, I have some of both, kept in the same conditions, with no discernible reason for the big difference in size.   2019 baby who climbed all the way to the top of a clover sprout. He looks very pleased with himself, don’t you think?. The babies from the 2019 spawn are doing well–insofar as I can tell. I refuse to attempt a count of 700+ baby crabs that are still the size of peppercorns. Fortunately, the wonderful adoption folks at LHCOS are doing a fantastic job of approving an awesome group of adopters (application here) to give these babies new forever homes. Now they just have to GROW so they can get big enough to adopt out. Many adopters will pick their babies up at Crab Con in July, some will have them shipped after the conference.   The really exciting news for the breeding program, though, is that I will be working one-on-one with a nearby hermit crab enthusiast who has agreed to try her hand at raising zoeae–with some help from yours truly. Brianna will be taking any purple pincher spawn that I get this summer and raising them herself in a setup of my design and with my mentorship along the way. This is really exciting news, because we definitely need more people successfully breeding … and what better way than with a batch of already hatched zoeae and some personal instruction?   One of the Coenobita lila I hope will breed. Coenobita lila. BUT! (Yes, it gets better!) What has me super stoked about this news is that it means I can focus 100% of my energies now on breeding the exotic species that I have in my care. Last summer, my female Ecuadorian (Coenobita compressus) had eggs, but she didn’t spawn correctly, so there were no babies to raise. And I now have strawberries (C. perlatus) that have been with me for eight months and I’m hoping they will gift me with babies this year. Coenobita lila close up. AND …. drumroll …. through a very happy twist of fate, I now have a brand new species that (I believe) has...

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Frederico and Saskia I’m pretty certain the Es mated this week (on August 6th). I have a hunch which of the two males mated with Saskia. I believe, based on follow-up protective behavior, that it was Frederico. This would put spawning for the Es sometime on or around September 4th. I have yet to see any mating behavior in my Purple Pinchers and no sign of eggs. That’s fine with me. If they don’t mate until September, then I get a little bit of a break between batches. The full moon is still a week away, though, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they “went for it” then. My PPs are pretty reliable full-moon maters. Having a soak. As for the strawberries, it’s now 31 days since Abby was observed mating and then was subsequently brought to me to give her eggs a chance to hatch. I’ve seen no spawning, but I did observe her shifting around and acting broody earlier this week. However, that behavior seems to have stopped as of this morning, so I believe Abby dropped her eggs overnight somewhere in the tank. I did a search, but didn’t find anything that looked like eggs. I’m guessing they were consumed by the other crabs. I really wanted this to work first time out of the gate, but straws, as a species, are completely new to me and I still have a lot to learn about their behavior, mating or otherwise. I’ve also been spending some time thinking about the breeding program in philosophical terms, too, including the bioethics of what I’m trying to do. Also what my long-term goals are, and just generally trying to figure out what I want my role to be in this long-term breeding project. Last year, I tried to induce spawning in Blue when I was sure it was time and she wasn’t going into the saltwater on her own. She was terrified as she went underwater, scrambled out as fast as she could, and then spent hours drying the eggs (which clearly hadn’t been ready after all). Then two days later she cast them onto some wood in the tat and the other crabs ate them. (I gathered some and added them to the saltwater, but none hatched.) I had clearly interfered at the wrong time and I took that as a reminder that I don’t actually know more than nature and that it’s not really under my control–it’s all up to the crabs. So, I won’t be forcing any human-induced spawning on Abby. I want her to trust me long-term, and we’re still just barely getting to know one...

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Crab Con was a great success. If you attended, thank you! It was amazing to meet all my virtual crabby friends and share the adventure with them. If you couldn’t make it, I hope to see you next year. We should be announcing a venue within the next month, perhaps locating it in a different city next summer. Stay tuned! This is Abby, a gift from Xenocrab and Motorcrab, friends from the HCA forum. And Abby has eggs! I was also brought six strawberry hermits–one with eggs!–from various generous adopters and supporters of the breeding program and I’m hoping to get a shot at breeding straws this summer. Fingers crossed! Now the adopters will all begin logging their quarterly check-ins so that we can track these babies growth and behavior over time. I’ll plan to post results from the October check-in as the first one is really just a baseline and we’re all sort of figuring things...

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We’re busily assembling the swag and getting items for Crab Con Marketplace ready for sale. These are the official Crab Con canvas bags with our new logo embroidered on them. They are sturdy, a sustainable, unbleached cotton fabric, and roomy enough to hold plenty of purchases. If you aren’t coming to Crab Con but want to own your own, we have a limited quantity available for purchase prior to the conference. You can find them here. And here’s an example of the hermit-crab-themed pottery that will be available at the Marketplace. In addition to the usual pea pod dishes and flower dishes from my EarthWaterFireStudio Etsy shop, there will be pottery hides (especially for the larger hermits who no longer fit their cocohuts), pool ladders, ocean-themed dishes, puzzle feeders, and more. Hope you can join us! July 13 and 14 at the Best Western Lockport. Be there or be …...

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