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Seaweek 2010: Oceans of Life - ours to explore; ours to restore

Creature Features


Hermit crab

The hermit crab is nature’s squatter. In the shallows of the sea are billions of empty snail shells, the poor owners having died. This crab seeks out a suitable shell as its portable home and hopefully its protection. It is not easy being a popular crab. Many of the larger sea creatures love eating them. If you can’t run, it is better to have some extra armour. A hermit crab among all the other shells will be hard to pick. A larger hunting creatures will not be able work out the difference between a normal shell and a hermit crab. The crabs lay their eggs in the shell allowing their young to hatch and start growing.

Can you see the eyes? They are on stalks so the crab can still see while the shell is covering the crab.

Hermit crabs have large nippers like the other crabs. They can be used for picking up food, cleaning themselves, having a fight with another crab or being romantic with the opposite sex. Did you check out that one of the claws is larger than the other? The bigger claw is used as a door to protect the crab when it retreats back deep into the shell. Six of the eight other legs are use for walking. They mostly eat plants, but will also chew on any dead animals they stumble over.

There are many kinds of hermit crabs. In Victoria it is easiest to find them around rocky shores and rockpools. They are more common than most people think. Sit patiently and watch for moving shells. The ones you can see move will probably have tiny legs poking out of the side. An indication it is not a sea snail but a hermit crab.



A hermit crab

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