We’ve Got Crabs

After Rose the Crab died, we waited for the socially accepted Crab Mourning Period before heading off to the local PetSmart for more crabs. We bought 3 very nice crabs, each in a pretty painted shell. Boo chose one painted with a yellow happy face, which he creatively named Happy. Pumpkin Girl chose one with a glittery flower which she named Rosie (not to be confused with the now deceased Rose). In a fit of patriotism, I chose one with a stars and stripes motif, which I named Sam.

Happy was less than happy to be yanked out of the lush accommodations of the pet store and came halfway out of his shell, waving his arms wildly at us. He and his companions were unceremoniously plunked into a plastic baggie lined with a damp paper towel. Rosie and Sam were in deep crab denial and stayed hidden in their shells. Happy ran around like a mad man, trying to find a way out.

Once home, we placed the crabs into the crabitat, along with their newly purchased crab huts. Rosie and Sam continued to hide. Happy continued to panic, running all over everything and everycrab that got in his way. He climbed on top of the huts and dragged himself through the water dish before finally hiding in a hut.

We left the crabs alone for a good week, allowing them time to de-stress and get used to their new home. I did a little online crab research and learned that as many as 30% of all hermit crabs die of Post Petstore Stress or PPS. The whole getting yanked away from their homes in the wild, forced to live in less than ideal conditions in a pet store, then moved again into someone’s home can be too much for their little crabby selves. There is not a lot you can do except provide the best conditions you can and hope.

After a week, I was anxious to play with our new crabs. Happy was acting more like Grumpy, Sam had dug himself halfway into the sand and only Rosie seemed to be moving around much. I took Rosie from the tank and let her walk around the carpet, under my watchful eye. When I returned her, it seemed like she sort of freaked out. She located Sam and attempted to dig him up. When he didn’t respond, she sat on him. After awhile she moved off and found another place to hide.

The next day, the children and I were shopping online for more shells for the crabs. I needed to measure the opening of their current shells in order to get the right size. I picked up Rosie and she promptly fell right out of her shell, dead from the shock of it all. I think I killed the crab. I ushered the children quickly upstairs, then went to check on Sam. He was right where Rosie left him, half out of the sand. I picked him up. No movement. I shook him. No movement. I poked his claw with a pencil. Nothing. Sam was dead, too.

We think Sam and Rosie had some sort of suicide pact. Sam, being the less stable of the two, just curled up and willed himself dead and when Rosie found him, she joined him.

This all happened right before Philip’s trip to Germany. I didn’t want to repeat the whole depressing scene with him gone, so we didn’t replace Sam and Rosie right away. Philip’s first weekend back, an announcement was made at church that on October 4th, the Feast of St Francis, there would be a blessing of the pets in the church parking lot. Boo leaned over and looked at me excitedly. “Yes,” I whispered. “We can bring Happy.”

Well, Pumpkin Girl didn’t want to be left out and insisted on buying new crabs in time to get blessed by the priest. The new crabs were a hit at the blessing. We even got mentioned briefly in the base paper.

The new crabs are named Snail and Swirly and seem to be doing much better than poor Rosie and Sam. First of all, I learned that when buying hermit crabs, you should buy ones that at least come out of their shells when you pick them up. Rosie and Sam had not, Happy, Snail and Swirly did. S and S checked out their new homes completely before settling in. They stuffed themselves into the same hut as Happy. They seem to be emotionally more stable. And Happy is happier with less suicidal crabs to hang around with. The three of them are actually really fun to watch.

Here’s Happy heading over to the water dish.

This is Swirly, munching on some yellow coconut. If you look carefully, you can see both Happy and Snail stuffed into the hut in the corner.

Snail will climb just about anything. He’s also an accomplished digger.

Hermit crabs are pretty low maintenance as pets. You do have to maintain a warm, humid crabitat for them. We have a combination temperature/humidity gauge in the tank. Plastic wrap over the top of the tank, water and wet sponges maintain the humidity nicely. I open or close the plastic wrap as needed to adjust the humidity. It’s a good project for the children, too, because the gauges are easy to read.

You can see the temperature/humidity gauge in this picture. As long as the needles are in the yellow zone you’re good. That’s Snail climbing the fake wood.

Hopefully these crabs are here for the long haul. Since it’s gotten painfully cold this week, with a high of 55 degrees, I’m having a harder time maintaining a good temperature. We may have to buy them an under the tank heater.



More Mac and Cheese, please!


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  • LOL! I always enjoy reading your blog, but today was really funny. I couldn’t stop smiling :):) I needed that after a less than perfect day. I love you ! Mom

  • We’ve been there, done that….We never had any luck with the hermit crabs in colder climates. A good reason to move south, I keep telling my husband! I don’t think my dh brought his coat on his trip to your neck of the woods this week……but I think his hotel room and conference are in the same building or adjacent buildings. We’ve visited there often enough that he won’t feel compelled to do the tourist thing without a coat. What a beautiful morning walk you must have. All we can see for miles here are corn fields and soy beans!


  • So sorry…What a bummer! Hopefully your new crabbies will do better? I’ll be watching to see how things progress. We have horrible allergies at our house, so hermit crabs, turtles, snakes (soooo not an option for dh!), and fish are our only options. So keep us all posted!!

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