We returned home from a vacation in Ocean City, MD almost a month ago. While we were there, my two boys pestered, begged, pleaded and pouted for every piece of plastic piece of shit toy they saw. My wife and I have developed a limited immunity to this behavior and have also worked it into all of our travel plans. In most cases we use this to our advantage. For example, I will get the boys a chocolate milk if they behave in the grocery store. I don’t consider it bribery, I call it Risk and Reward. But all bets are off on vacation, especially when there are new “marks” in town for them to con, i.e. non-parental relatives. And that is how we ended up taking home Hermy and Scott, the two hermit crabs.
My sons conned their grandmother into purchasing them each a hermit crab on our first excursion to the boardwalk. I don’t object to pets, I have owned almost one of every type of domesticated animal there is at one point in time. Dogs, cats, rabbits, a snake, an iguana, you name it, I had it. My wife on the other hand is not very fond of non-canine animals, especially birds, but she gave in on this purchase and the boys each picked out their newest pet.
I had several hermit crabs in my younger days. I knew that they didn’t last very long and the ones I owned tended to be escape artists. One particular crab escaped from his enclosure and proceeded to eat the carpet in my house. He tore up and unraveled a 5” X 2” section of carpet. Another hermit crab (it might have been the same one, but I doubt it) escaped, traveled up a flight of ten stairs and ended up in the bedroom of the one person in the house that was afraid of him, my sister Chris. I think he died right there on the floor scaring the shit out of my sister, his dying act a bit of gleeful vengeance on his Brobdignagian captors.
The boys were entertained by their new friends throughout the vacation and for a little while longer when we got home, but after the first few days, my wife and I seemed to be the only ones that knew they were still around. A week after vacation, my boys headed off to stay for a week with their grandparents in Pennsylvania. During that week, Hermy the Hermit Crab expired with a puff of sewer gas. We decided to keep his corpse “in state” (i.e. in the garage where his stench would be a little less noticeable) until my oldest son returned to bid him farewell.
Meanwhile, back in my basement layer, Scott the Crab was still as vibrant as ever. He works out every morning for a few hours by taking laps on the cage walls, the clicking of his little legs keeping time with my clacking on the computer keyboard. Didda-chuck. Didda-chum. Dadda-chee, the lobstrosity would then go play a little late at night. Since it seemed that Scott was going to be with us for a little while longer, my wife decided it was time to do a little research and find out what hermit crabs really needed to survive. That brings us back to the Risk and Reward topic. If aforementioned children behaved themselves this weekend, we would a) secure Scott a new residence with some room to really stretch his claws, b) get him a new water bowl and some sand to dig in, and c) replace Hermy with a living version.
The kids lived up to their end of the bargain, so Saturday morning we headed off to Petsmart to see what they had in the way of crustacean casas. Petsmart was actually well stocked in habitats, food and even hermit crab toys. We walked out with a new home, a bag of colored sand, food, a water dish (with ramp) and Kelly the Krab. (NOTE: The name Kelly is in honor of the Kelly Bachand, the youngest competitor on the History Channel’s Top Shot. My boys roped me into watching this show and then we were all hooked. I had my money on Iain the entire time.) While at the store, the saleswoman made a special note of the warranty period and mentioned that while Kelly looked active in the aquarium, she thought his shell was way to small for a crab his size and suspected that there was something wrong with him.
Well, the saleswoman was right. Kelly I, as he shall be called, didn’t even make it home. He was hanging limply out of his shell by the time I had the new habitat furnished and everyone moved in. Back to Petsmart with receipt and recently deceased Kelly I in tow. I made an agreement with my oldest boy that we were going for vitality, not looks, in the selection of the next crab. Unfortunately, the saleswoman who sold us Kelly I was no longer on duty and we had to explain the situation to a different woman. Unfortunatelier, this new woman tried to tell me that Kelly I was not dead. I explained that Kelly I was no longer among the living, and that I have owned several animals, including hermit crabs, and I could tell when they are no longer living. It was not an argument, but the saleswoman did take a few minutes to convince that the hermit crab was, in fact, deceased or as she put it, not well. I swore that any moment she would say, “Ah yes, Norwegian Blue, beautiful plumage. He’s not dead, he’s just resting.”
At the crab tank, I asked her to provide her most educated guess of which hermit crab was the most likely to survive for more than one hour of leaving the store. The one she picked out had to be the least attractive of all of the crabs, but he did appear to be mobile. My son said, “Cool! His shell looks like a rock.” My wife and I agreed that his “shell” resembled a desiccated dog turd more than a rock, but hey, he was alive and that is what matters.
Back to the basement. Kelly II is in his new home and most importantly still alive. Scott has gone into overdrive. He is like a crab possessed. Climbing the little ladder, going for a swim, moving the toys around, flipping over shells. He has no tail to wag, so I assuming that this is happy behavior. He has also has a liking for his new companion. I have caught Scott sitting on top of Kelly II’s shell several times. I don’t know how hermit crabs “do it” and I have not worked up the courage to hit Google to find out. I have pondered the search terms I would use, such as “crab on crab action”, “hot kinky hermit crabs”, “your shell or mine? a crab love story”, “two crabs, one shell” or, the most mundane, “hermit crab reproduction”. I have decided that should offspring be part of their union, then so be it, but I am not going to spend any time figuring out the sex of each of the crabs in our care.
As I write this, Kelly II is eating and Scott has made at least five laps around the habitat. Who knows, in a few weeks I may have a new title to add to my resume, Hermit Crab Husbandry and have a source of homegrown Christmas presents too.