Thursday, December 30, 2010

Day 450

I need some advice. I’ve come across quite an uncomfortable situation.  One that has me quite nervous and feeling a tad unwell.  It involves a fair bit of scratching and poking and prodding.  It includes a quarantine zone in the bedroom and shutting the blinds during the day.   It has us all quite concerned. 

Has anyone out there ever had crabs?

We’ve got crabs.  Well, actually, Tahlia does.  Her sister gave them to her.  For her birthday.  We’ve had them for three months.  They’ve created quite a stir, and they give us plenty to talk about.

Of course I’m talking about pet crabs. Hermit crabs to be precise.

I hope you didn’t think that I was talking about scabies!  Ewwwww!!!! That would just be disgusting and festy and wrong. 

Hermit crabs.  We have two hermit crabs which we’ve brought with us to the coast so that we can feed and water them as normal.  They are living in our bedroom in their glass tank. 

Anyway, a few days ago one of them disappeared. Completely.  We poked and prodded and scratched about in the tank, running our fingers through the sand, but couldn’t find him. In the end we lifted the tank up and looked in from underneath and found a complex tunnel system in the sand. And there he was.  Dead or alive? We dug him out.  He was not moving.  After much jiggling and wiggling we decided he was alive.  But possibly sick …

What does one do with a sick Hermie?  You can hardly take him to the vet.  Let’s just keep an eye on him.

Anyway for a day or so the crab would bury itself in the sand and just stay there, until one day Derek and I went in for a look and found a crab, laying naked out of its shell, being held by the claw of the other crab.  Now, let me just tell you, if you know anything about Hermit Crabs they never show you their bums.  So this was disturbing. Shit.  One crab had killed the other. But our mourning was short lived when I noticed a third crab in the tank.  We don’t have three crabs?! Tahlia was now by our side.  It seems we have three crabs sweetie, one of which is dead.

Huh? That’s not dead Mum.  That’s its skin. It’s moulting!

They moult?

Yes, they shed their skins. 

Geez ….

So there was no murder.  We now had a very active crab holding onto his exoskeleton, with the other crab watching nearby.  Cool. 

Then yesterday we found a second exoskeleton, or part thereof.  Just a tiny piece. Right next to the first peeled jump suit. Weird. And another naked crab. Only this time it really was a naked crab.  He wasn’t moving.  Only the slightest twitch. Again, is he dead?  I think he’s dead.  Plus he’s lost a limb! There was leg lying next to him. Crap. No, not crap. Crab. The second crab is going through the whole moulting thing and has died.  Or has he?  We watched.  An eye moved.  A nipper twitched.  There’s movement.  But is he ok?

I feel sick.  Helpless.  What can we do?  Is the crab dying a slow painful naked death?  I did the only thing possible.  Had a chat with Professor Goog.

I typed in “is my hermit crab dead or is he moulting?” Can you believe there was an extensive explanation for that exact question! According to the professor we shouldn’t assume death.  If a crab decides to shed above the surface we should just let him be.  He’ll become quite inactive.  He’ll be very vulnerable.  And if we disturb him during the peeling process we may kill him so peace and quiet is necessary.  And darkness. Oh, and a fence is also vital to protect him from the other crab in his naked state.  The Professor suggested cutting a plastic ring from a soft drink bottle and placing it around the nude Hermie.  So we did. 

I didn’t sleep much last night. I kept checking on him. No change.  At one point I did find his mate Mr Crabs in the quarantine area with him. He must have tunnelled under the fence. A friend holding his hand through the process, or a foe about to attack? I removed him just in case.  Lying there naked with your legs all askew requires a bit of privacy no matter which way you look at it. 

Anyway, so after around 15 hours we still have a naked and limp and motionless crabby. He’s not moving.  How do we know if he’s dead?  We wait a few days and see if he starts to smell. Great.  

I’ll keep you posted. 


  1. Oh my gosh dude I thought you meant the for real crabs, like the kind on your private areas! I almost died reading the first few paragraphs.

    Lucky for you they are lost in your house and not in your pants!

  2. Oh wow never had one and I too would have thought he or they were dead.
    So glad its those and not the other kind uggah that would be bad.


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