We were at Tarpon Springs being tourists the other day, looking through the kitchy stuff in all of the gift shops, when my daughter came across hermit crabs. They were selling a little plastic case with one crab, a shell, sponge and food for 15 dollars. My daughter wanted to spend her own money to get it and caught me at a weak moment, so I let her. I mean, come on, she is so cute, how could I say no to this face?!
I have always heard that if your kid wants a pet, you should make them read two books about it, and do a report before you let them get it. As I said, she caught me in a moment of weakness, and how hard can it be to take care of one little crab?
When we got home, I googled hermit crabs and I was shocked at how much more they need. I am surprised it is even legal to sell them by themselves in those little cages! First of all, they need to live with other hermit crabs- not alone such as the name "hermit crabs" would suggest. Second of all, they need to be in a 10 gallon tank with three inches of moist sand to dig in- humidity is key. Thirdly, the whole painted shell thing? Bad. They should be in natural shells, of which they like to have a few to roll around in the sand and pick from. The other important things I found out are, if they molt, you must not touch it, but take the others away from it for a few days, or cut the top portion off a two liter bottle and place over it as protection from the other crabs. They like fruits and vegetables and even cereal to nibble, not just those horrible smelling pellets. And, the coolest part of all, they switch shells whenever they want to, not just when they are molting.
So, yesterday my daughter, the crab in the painted Dora shell named Tom, and I went to the pet store to pick out the supplies we needed:
Coconut husks- to mix in with sand to keep moist
Climbing material- for Tom and friends to climb on
2 new friends for Tom
Salt water drops- for one water dish
De-chlorination drops- for the other water dish
Calcium starfish- to help the shell harden after a molt
Spongy beach balls- to help tank stay moist, and in case the little crabbies want to strike up a game of sand volleyball
Hollow Log- for them to relax under
We already had a ten gallon tank, seashells from the beach that we boiled, and a bag of playground sand from WalMart (thanks to Gran!)
So, the moral of the story is that unless you want a 15 dollar crab to turn into a 50 dollar commitment and a mad scramble for supplies, make your kid read the two books and do the report BEFORE you get suckered into a new pet!