Palm Beach, FL. I wasn’t sure what this was when Gibbs, my Havenese, and I came across it on the beach until a friend pointed out it was a homeless hermit crab. Homeless? If I had only known, I would have tried to find it a new home/shell.
Hermit crabs are decopod crustaceans which simply means they have 10 legs (deca is Greek for 10) who live in shells made and abandoned by other animals. As the crab grows, it must find a new, bigger shell. And sometimes there is intense competition for new shells.
Crabs will sometimes gang up on a crab who is perceived to have a better shell (gee that sounds like human behavior) but they also form queues in what is known as a vacancy chain. When a bigger shell becomes available, hermit crabs will line up from largest to smallest. The biggest crab takes the new shell and then they each swap shells for the newly vacated one until they all have new shells. Kinda like musical chairs, but more civilized!
And hermit crabs make wonderful pets according to an ad on Petco’s website which describes them as lively and cute. I wouldn’t go so far as cute, but you need to really like your hermit crab since they live 20 + years if properly cared for. Ah, if I had only known. Gibbs might have a new playmate!