Written by Stacy Griffith
Its been nearly 2 months since I brought home 8 E’s from Petco. Thankfully four of them shed their painted shells before being moved to the main tank. You can watch one of the in the video below.
The sole reason shells are painted is to entice your children into begging you for a hermit crab. In most instances the child doesn’t necessarily want the crab but the brightly colored shells. This has been a losing battle for us for many years and I still have no ideas how to convince Petco and others to stop buying from suppliers who push painted shells.
I typically try to avoid buying painted shells and supporting this industry but this was the first time I have seen E’s for sale in several years and I wanted them desperately.
Last weekend I found a naked, dead E in one of my water dishes. I didn’t see his shell anywhere near the water. Today while tidying up some moss, I picked up a hut to find his shell. I can’t even imagine what happened to it. There is no way this crab fell hard enough in my tank to destroy this shell. Maybe the paint weakened the shell and he broke it trying to get out? Or maybe another of my crabs tried taking the shell and it broke off? I didn’t find the top section by sifting through the EE in the immediate area. This is pretty shocking to say the least. Despite the destroyed shell, look how much paint is IN the shell still! The crab did not appear to be ‘stuck’ in this shell but if he did this himself what other reason could there be?
I did not see any noticeable paint stuck to his abdomen when I removed him from the water. Nor did I notice any obvious signs of damage though I didn’t thoroughly investigate either. I did however pour the water into my catch all bucket so I’m going to check it for paint flecks.
In a video below you can see how shells are painted en mass. Hermit crabs are forced into these shells, they do not go into them willingly. Not only is this practice cruel to the hermit crabs but the shells are harmful to them. The sheer number of shells being harvested for painting is concerning for the hermit crabs still in the wild, they have been experiencing a shell shortage for some years. It is common to see photos of hermit crabs making homes in trash because they are not able to find a suitable shell.