Our beloved Jon passed on February 14, 2021 after successfully shedding his exoskeleton. May he rest in peace and continue to inspire hermit crab lovers around the world.
Jonathan Livingston Crab’s Obituary from Carol
Carol ‘CrabWorks’ Ormes
Carol is one of the founding members of the Yahoo! Group that eventually became the Land Hermit Crab Owners Society. She continues to inspire and educate us still today. <3
Carol spent 38 years as chief of microbiology at a Washington area hospital. Carol lives in Miami, Florida which is a native region for Coenobita clypeatus. You will see that her care practices differ from our current methods. Please bear in mind her location and the fact that she is retired and able to give Jon (and in the past, Kate) her full attention. Jon spends his nights in his warm, humid tank. During the day Carol allows Jon to roam in designated crab zones in her apartment. Carol respects Jon’s space while he is exploring, she does not play with him or hold him any more than necessary. This is similar to the behavior seen in the wild. Clypeatus often venture away from the ocean during their nightly foraging. They carry shell water with them to keep their gills and abdomen moist. Some species do not venture away from the ocean for any reason. While her methods work for her and Jon we don’t fully understand why and until we do, we encourage you to follow our recommended care instructions as they have proven successful over the past 20 years. Most ‘new’ pet hermit crabs are in such poor physical health that this type of routine would be detrimental.
This is a bit of a diary of Carol and Jon over the years. They have been featured in the news on many occasions and CSJ is honored to be the care taker of their story.
In 2019 Jon spent several months vacationing in Tampa with LHCOS Local Representatives Mike and Missy while Carol recovered from a procedure.
Below this photo gallery you will find past news articles, videos and many of Carol’s emails back and forth with member of the Hermies Yahoo! Group.
42-year-old pet hermit crab and owner are beloved at Fort Myers retirement community
Jonathan Livingston is one of the most popular guys at the Shell Point Retirement Community in Fort Myers.
Friday, November 30th 2018, 6:36 PM EST by Sean Martinelli
Updated: Friday, September 20th 2019, 11:41 AM EDT
Originally posted: https://www.nbc-2.com/story/39569676/42yearold-pet-hermit-crab-and-owner-are-hit-at-fort-myers-retirement-community
Jonathan Livingston is one of the most popular guys at the Shell Point Retirement Community in Fort Myers.
At 42-years old, he’s also one of the youngest but has outlived most of his peers.
Jonathan is the pet hermit crab of Carol Ann Ormes. He’s believed to be the oldest in captivity.
“He’s just a good friend,” Ormes said. “You can’t help but love a little guy like that.”
Ormes bought the crab while vacationing with friends along the Delaware shore, but never expected he would live this long. He was named after the Jonathan Livingston Seagull.
“Everybody who writes to me asks how he is,” Ormes said.
Jonathan also had a sister, Crab Kate, who lived for 35-years. She passed away in 2011.
Over the years, Ormes has given presentations to the public on hermit crabs and proper ways they can be cared for.
The 40-Year-Old Hermit Crab
Meet Jonathan Livingston Crab, the world’s most venerable pet hermit crab.
BY LINDA LOMBARDI
OCTOBER 4, 2016
originally published here: https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/the-40yearold-hermit-crab
The 40-Year-Old Hermit Crab
Jonathan Livingston Crab. (Photo: Paul Yacovitch)
THESE DAYS IT’S NORMAL TO announce your pet’s birthday or adopt-iversary online. But it’s definitely not common for the number to be 40—especially if that pet is a hermit crab.
Many people have bought hermit crabs at boardwalk souvenir shops on beach vacations, once or maybe twice. The little crabs come in wire cages and often wear tackily-painted seashells, and most die after just a few weeks.
Carol Ann Ormes purchased her hermit crab in the summer of 1976, but the big difference between hers and everyone else’s is that Jonathan Livingston Crab is still going strong in 2016. As far as anyone knows, Jonathan holds the longevity record for a hermit crab in captivity.
Other hobbyists refer to Ormes with terms like “legend” and “the crab queen.” And in response to Jon’s anniversary announcement, in August, Ormes got dozens of replies of congratulations, both from online and real-life friends, including ones who were with her on that beach vacation at the Delaware shore four decades ago.
Before that fateful trip to the beach, she’d never even heard of hermit crabs. When a fellow traveler told Ormes about how the creatures could change seashells, she was intrigued. Yet when that friend actually bought one, it wasn’t exactly love at first sight. “He was kind of strange,” says Ormes. And their other friend was terrified of him: “When we’d get back from dinner or something, she’d say, ‘You two go in first!’”
By the end of their two-week vacation, though, Ormes had decided she needed a hermit crab for herself. They stopped at a shop in Ocean City, Maryland, and bought Jon on their way home.
When Ormes got Jon, there were no resources where she could research how to care for him. In fact, those little cages they come in are pretty much certain death, because they don’t retain enough moisture. Now you can buy heaters, thermometers and hygrometers to monitor the environment for cold-blooded pets, but she didn’t have any of that. “I could tell by putting my hand in there whether it was moist enough or warm enough,” she says.
Ormes figured out what was needed on her own by instinct and experimentation, starting with buying a glass tank and covering the bottom with fine gravel. At the same store where Ormes bought Jonathan Livingston Crab a new cage she also bought him a female companion. Crab Kate was with them for 35 years until she passed away in 2011. Zoos only started keeping statistics for invertebrates recently, but the lifespan of both crabs is believed to be record-setting.
Ormes’ professional background likely helped, too: she spent 38 years as chief of microbiology at a Washington-area hospital, and she’d worked with rats, mice, frogs, and toads. “I loved all those bugs, the frogs we used to have in the summer that barked like dogs,” she says. “I was primed for it.” She was comfortable with a pet that needed proper humidity more than cuddling, and she was also okay with some of the other odd aspects of living with invertebrates.
Later, though, she discovered that Jonathan Livingston’s name was a bit off the mark. “They were both females, but I’ve never told Jon that,” she says. “You don’t know that till they get older.”
Jon was already almost 20 when Ormes retired and got her first computer. Her fame spread as she got online and started to connect with other hermit crab lovers all over the world, sharing her advice on care and feeding. For a while she helped run an online club, where she would chronicle the suspense of Jon and Kate’s molting process—a delicate time for hermit crabs, and often their downfall if the right conditions aren’t provided. The club is no longer active, but Ormes still sends around emails when Jon molts. In 2014 she wrote:
“This morning before breakfast I had the feeling that I should peek into Jonathan’s molting tub. And there he was, out from under his slate roof and almost finished eating the egg shell that I had put in there before he dug under. He looks absolutely beautiful, a very shiny toasty brown with furry (golden) legs and sharp toe points. He has new eye stalks and antennae along with his new legs and claws and upper body. His green turbo seashell is nice and shiny because he was in very fine gravel this year and not coconut fiber which takes the shine off his seashells.”
But it’s not just other crab fans who’ve ended up coming along for the ride. Karen Riecks, who’s known Ormes since the 1990s, remembers getting emailed photos of the crabs each time they molted and moved to new shells. “I even went to a sea shell store with Mom Carol Ann to pick out possible new shells for her two babies,” she says. When Ormes retired and moved to Florida, Riecks offered to drive the crabs to Florida when Ormes was having trouble arranging for them to fly. And even the terrified friend from their beach trip has cared for Jon and Kate while Ormes traveled.
Her online renown has led to surprising encounters. One time, at the Delaware shore, she was showing pictures of her crabs to the staff at one of the shops when a customer came in and asked if she could see them too. “She started looking at them, and then she looked at me and said, ‘Are you Carol of Crabworks? I just wrote to you yesterday,’” Ormes says. “She was another crab person from Pennsylvania.”
At the community in Florida where she lives now, Jonathan Livingston Crab is well known, although people are sometimes a bit confused about what exactly he is. “People will say ‘How is your hermit frog? How is your snail? I’m sorry, I don’t mean snail, I mean your shrimp,’” Ormes says.
People who come to the apartment always ask to meet him, and he gets out to socialize too. She does presentations where she shows the tiny shells he lived in as a baby, then dramatically unveils him so people can see his current size. Recently he went on a visit to the community’s call center. “Everyone outside of that office came to see him,” she says. “He walked everywhere, even on their desks and keyboards and cables.”
Julie Smith, a neighbor, says, “I just love when she walks Jonathan down the corridor to come to visit. It’s truly amazing to see him scurrying around the apartment.” And when Crab Kate died, a neighbor saw her looking around for a burial site: “He said, ‘it would be an honor for me to have her buried in my garden.’”
Jon’s great age is an amazing accomplishment, but can you really have a relationship with a crab? Ormes says Jon can tell her apart from other people, and he clearly seeks out her company. “He follows me places. When I’m out on the lanai [enclosed porch] on my computer he comes out there and climbs on my feet, if I go to the morning room he comes out there and walks around the table,” she says. “If I go out and leave him out of his tank, I come home and he’s at the front door.”
Ormes thinks that all that exercise outside the tank is one of the factors that kept her crabs healthy for so long. These days, Jonathan Livingston Crab keeps her active too, since he likes to get under the furniture. She’ll be 80 at the end of October, and, she says, “I still have to crawl around on my hands and knees looking for him.”
It’s one of the many things they’ve shared over the years—and his 40th anniversary treat was another. He got a lobster tail that he ate out of her hand. “He likes the exoskeleton part. He doesn’t want the meat,” she says. “I get to eat the meat.”
Vanessa wrote: Sun Mar 26, 2006
A friend (Mike) shared this link with me! Go Carol!
Crabtacular Resident Owns Two 29 Year Old Hermit Crabs
by Eric Kurfess
FORT MYERS – If you wake up on the wrong side of the bed in the morning, you may feel a little crabby. Well, here at Shell Point, we were lucky enough to find someone who wakes up on the right side of the bed with the same feeling. Carol Ann Ormes (Parkwood) is the loving caretaker of her two pet crabs. Carol has what may be the two oldest living land hermit crabs in the world. Jonathan Livingston Crab and Crab Kate will turn 29 years old in August, far surpassing the life span of your average land hermit crab. And Carol should know her online photo gallery is one of the top links from the unofficial crab website, CrabStreetJournal.com/org.
Land hermit crabs in captivity typically have a life span of one or two years, depending on how well they are taken care of.
After nearly three decades, Carol clearly takes every possible precaution to ensure her tiny friends’ safety and good health. When asked about her secret to the crabs’ longevity, she said, “Since the crabs came from a humid climate, I figured I should create a tank that was humid for them.”
Other enthusiasts are known to keep their crabs in a dry, sandy environment, but according to Carol, this results in a shorter life span,
as the crab will dry out and their exoskeleton will become brittle and crack.
Each crab has his own distinct personality. Jonathan, for instance, is an adventurer and war veteran. Carol explains: “Jonathan is an explorer and he wants to get out and run around. He once climbed up the bathroom wall. When I wasn’t looking he fell off and he broke about a nickel sized hole in his shell. That was the first time it had happened in 29 years, so I had to give him a quick bath. Then I concocted a patch with a purple heart for him and he just loved it.”
And Carol (aka CrabWorks) makes the news AGAIN!!
Hermit crabs don’t have to fade away
By LINDA LOMBARDI
For The Associated Press
It’s a summer tradition in many beach and boardwalk towns: you buy the kids a hermit crab in a brightly painted shell, take it home, and then, usually, it dies. You figure they don’t live very long, and move on.
But for Carol Ormes it turned out to be a bit more of a commitment. When a friend bought a crab on a trip to Ocean City, Md., Ormes says, “I said that that was the ugliest thing I ever saw -I don’t want that in my house! But after a week of it crawling around the house, I fell in love with that little guy.”
So she got Jonathan Livingston Crab on the way home from the beach, and his friend Crab Kate later at a mall. They now live with Ormes at a retirement community in Fort Myers, Fla., and are about to turn 32 years old.
Ormes is a bit of a local celebrity “The crabby lady, they call me although not everyone is clear on the source of her fame: at a local restaurant recently, “someone asked, how are your snails?
They’re not snails, nor particularly closely related to the crabs we eat. And Ormes is far from the only one who loves them. You can find a thriving community of hobbyists on the Internet who appreciate these critters and share advice on how to keep them.
Contrary to what you might think when you buy the little critter, it does take a little attention to keep them healthy which also means they’ll be more fun.
The basic setup should include:
Substrate: Crabs are often sold with gravel in the container, which you’ll need to replace immediately with sand, or coconut fiber bedding that you can buy in pet stores. Keep it moist (not soggy) and deep enough for your biggest crab to bury itself completely.
Otherwise the crab will be unable to molt, and will die.
Enclosure: Crabs need room to move around and places to climb and hide. Also, remember that the hermit crabs we buy as pets are tropical: provide a heat source, and don’t use wire cages they don’t retain humidity.
Extra shells: The unique feature of the hermit crab is that it wears another animal’s shell for protection, so you need to provide a choice of bigger shells as it grows. “Imagine if we stayed in the same clothes since we were in kindergarten!” says Eleanor Glazewski of Shrewsbury N.J., who sells shells and other supplies at www.elsshells.com. She cautions against painted shells, they chip, and the crabs can eat the paint. Make sure to have several for each crab in a tank; they may fight over them otherwise.
Water: Crabs need chlorine free water. Glazewski suggests that since they only need a dish of water, not a whole tank, you can use bottled water instead of buying aquarium de chlorination chemicals. The more exotic species require a dish of saltwater as well, which some hobbyists also provide for the usual purple pincher that’s sold in pet stores and souvenir shops. You can get saltwater mix at the pet store; since you’ll be using small amounts compared with a full aquarium, one package will last for months.
Food: As for food, crabs in the wild are scavengers. “They eat pretty much whatever falls from the trees and washes up on the shore,” says Aaryn Wika of Northglenn, Colo., who sells her own natural food mixtures at www.thehappyhermitcrab.com.
The wide variety of mixes on her Web site are made from human food ingredients, even the seaweeds everything, she says, except the krill. So go ahead and supplement your crab’s diet with bits of your own fruits, vegetables, and seafood. (Wika cautions not to feed them garlic, onions, or table salt, and while they like popcorn, no butter.)
Wika warns that if you buy commercial foods, be careful of preservatives, especially copper sulfate. Copper is actually used as a medication for fish to eliminate invertebrate parasites, so should never be fed to an invertebrate like a hermit crab, says Shane Boylan, veterinarian at the South Carolina Aquarium.
Finally, when you pick a crab to buy, try to find a store that looks like it’s following these care instructions; for example, if they’re kept in wire cages, they are likely already dehydrated and in poor health. With a good start and the right care, your crab should last through many more summers. You probably won’t beat Carol Ormes’ record, but who knows as she says,
“I didn’t realize this would be a lifetime adventure.”
On the Net:
07/21/08 17:48 © Copyright The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information contained In this news report may not be
published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.
And Carol (aka CrabWorks) makes the news AGAIN!!
July 4, 2008
Fort Meyers, Florida Southwest Florida
Crabby south Fort Myers couple on a 32 year crawl Shell Point resident fosters her pinching pets
By Jennifer Misthal • jmisthalatnewspressdotcom • July 24, 2008
There’s a couple at Shell Point Retirement Community in south Fort Myers who have been living together in close quarters for 32 years.
That’s perhaps not a long time compared with some of their neighbors.
But then, this couple resides within a glass tank and enjoys snacking on brown oak leaves and crab apple tree bark.
Meet Jonathan Livingston Crab and Crab Kate, a pair of purple pincher hermit or Caribbean crabs that share an address with Carol Ann Ormes, the woman who lets them roam the house around dinnertime each evening and feeds them eggshells.
Jonathan Livingston Crab, right, and Crab Kate, have lived at Carol Ann Ormes’ home at Shell Point for more than 30 years. (John David Emmett/newspress.com)
“If you pick up any book, it says they’re known to live in captivity for 10 or 11 years,” said Ormes, 71. “Well, they don’t know me.”
When Ormes first brought home the crabs, their shells were the size of the tip of her pinky finger. Now, the shells are about the size of a tennis ball. Ormes, a former microbiologist, never expected to care for a pair of nocturnal crabs, especially for this long.
• Carol Ann Ormes has owned Jonathan Livingston Crab and Crab Kate for more than 30 years. She says most reference books say hermit crabs live 10 to 11 years. (JOHN DAVID EMMETT/The NewsPress)
Ormes acquired the couple after a friend bought a pet crab during a vacation to a Maryland beach, around the time of Hurricane Belle, in the summer of 1976.
“I said I wouldn’t have one of those,” Ormes recalls.
But Ormes’ attitude changed when she met Jonathan in Ocean City, Md.
“I fell in love with that little guy after being with him,” Ormes said.
Crab Kate joined Jonathan shortly thereafter. Ormes found her in Virginia while she was looking for an aquarium for Jonathan.
Jonathan and Crab Kate were probably a few years old then, Ormes said.
“They’re a lot more work than people think,” Ormes said. “You can’t just throw them in a cage and play with them. That’s what people think.”
Over the years, Ormes has refined her crab care taking skills.
Take the tank. Jonathan, who is named after Richard Bach’s 1970 novella “Jonathan Livingston Seagull,” and Crab Kate’s don’t have to walk on sand, rather fine, un coated gravel that can be hard to find in stores, Ormes said.
There’s a heater under their tank about the size of a small book, keeping the space warm and moist, she said.
“They can stay at about 80 degrees in there and at about 80 percent humidity. All that I measure with my hand. I don’t need a thermometer,” Ormes said.
Jonathan and Crab Kate get their exercise around dinner each night, she said.
“They just walk through my whole apartment,” Ormes said. “In and out of the lanai, across the living room and into the den.”
Ormes installed a pet gate around her computer to protect the machine’s wires from the crabs’ pincers and spends time chasing after them to get the crabs back to their cage.
“They are masters at hiding,” Ormes said. “So every single night I’m crawling around on my hands and knees … trying to find these guys so that they can go to bed and I can go to bed.”
Caring for hermit crabs
• Keep crabs’ containers moist, but not soggy, and deep enough for the biggest crab to bury itself completely
• Crabs like to move around, climb and hide
• Crabs’ containers should be equipped with a heat source
• The unique feature of the hermit crab is it wears another animal’s shell for protection, so you need to provide a choice of bigger shells as it grows
• Crabs need chlorine free water
SOURCE: THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Carol “CrabWorks” Ormes Spotlight page from CSJ
Mostly comprised of emails back and forth via the yahoo group.
Sent: Thursday, December 20, 2001 3:04 AM To:
Subject: Hermies Yahoo!Group Christmas in a Parking Garage
Wow, everyone’s crabs are molting so nicely. Must be the time for it and the weather change from summer in December to winter at last.
It’s Wednesday and ever since Monday night I’ve heard toenails scraping on the glass. Kate is back in the green turbo and has been in and out of her parking garages, separated by Lego walls, and is now back at the end of the first side I fixed up. Of course, she had to try the side that was too narrow. This time she dug it herself, and I can see her in the front corner. Pullleeeese stay there, Kate! I’ve now changed from the slate roof to the Plexiglas roof, still a little too humid in there but we’re working it out. It always starts that way with fresh moistened gravel. I’m absolutely exhausted so I know she must be. With all the trashing of the molting tank at night, I don’t think she’s slept in two days or nights. Stay tuned!
Carol, another floor pacer
Sent: Friday, March 15, 2002 2:10 AM
Good Morning, Gals and Guys, I’m overjoyed today! After digging to build a nest starting three months ago, and staying underground beginning six weeks ago with all the rustling around for as long a time there was the waited for still silence yesterday and last night. Each day I’ve prayed for my first baby, Jonathan Livingston Crab, to molt safely as he was created to do. Those prayers and yours were answered; this morning I peeked and I have a beautiful new hermit crab! Perched gracefully in front of soft, pink Jonathan is his entire worn out exoskeleton in one peaceful piece. I am joyfully grateful. How incredible this creature, no food or water (except the wet gravel) for sooo long, a very thick old body to throw off, his sitting on the glass bottom of his crabitat (how unnatural). Yet there he is this morning, prayed for and loved and oh so beautiful, a brand new creature starting all over again. The thrill never ceases. I am joyfully grateful. Thanks, my friends, for your prayers and good wishes….
Carol of CrabWorks (sixteen more months before we celebrate this event again)
Sent: Thursday, March 21, 2002 8:40 AM
Subject: Land Hermit Crabs Jonathan 5 Days After Molt
Hi, Y’all, Another photo added, Jon at 5 days post molt. He’s quite brown already and only has a big claw and a few legs left to eat. The roof looks like it’s sitting on his seashell but it really isn’t. Taking these from above to avoid flash reflection. Not easy to get him to stay out when I lift his blanket and shoot. He’s too fast for me!
Sent: Friday, March 22, 2002 3:09 AM
Subject: Land Hermit Crabs
Re: Jonathan 5 Days After Molt
peripola wrote: “Aw, Carol, thanks so much for sharing. I feel the excitement in my stomach when I look at it. How old is he now? Going on 27? That is quite an accomplishment! Congratulations! Maryann”
Maryann, I adopted Jon and Kate in August 1976 so they are both 25 and a half years old as adoptees. They were probably two years old or older (who knows?) when I got them as little tykes. They were such cutie pies then. Well, they still are…in a different way. I love your photos of Ichabod and Margarita. You must have a good telephoto lens on your digital camera which I don’t have on mine. Great closeups. But mine was a surprise Christmas gift from my brother, so I’m not complaining. I just use the macro setting and then crop them. And what cute crabs, makes me wish I had some E’s. Maybe someday.
Carol (Sent down water to Jon today with the ol’ turkey baster.)
Sent: Wednesday, March 27, 2002 7:46 AM
Subject: Land Hermit Crabs Re: Wet tanks and moults
cheryldodson wrote: “We just returned from a holiday in Tasmania…
When we came home we went to pick them up I was horrified the tank walls were dripping with water! Underneath were two crabs D’Artagnan and Pinky in different stages of moulting. Anyway they are both in isolation and I’m praying that they will survive the experience. Both seems to have mostly finished eating their exoskeleton and are hopefully resting from the experience.”
Hi Cheryl, Once when I was vacationing in Ireland, a friend watched my hermit crabs and Jonathan was underground in his molting nest when I left. I too gave very explicit directions on keeping the gravel moist but not soaking wet. When I got home ten days later, I thought Jon was dead. His crumpled body was sitting in a half inch (about 1 1/2 cm) of water. Turned out that he had molted probably minutes before my arrival and that was his exo I was looking at. His nearly white new body was sitting deep into his seashell I’m so glad I looked! I’d never seen a molt before, they always took place under a big rock. This time he was near the glass wall.
Bottom line: That was about twenty years ago and Jon’s just fine. So fear not. Your two crabs will most likely be fine too.
Date: Wed Apr 3, 2002 3:00 am
Subject: Re: molt success! woohoo!
Lawana wrote: “I am so tickled to have made it not only through my first successful molt, but my first simultaneous molt! Lawana”
I’m thrilled for you, Lawana. Isn’t it a great feeling to arrive successfully at the end of this ordeal, natural as it is.I took off Jon’s roof today, almost three weeks post molt. Every speck of his exo has been eaten (except for the toe points). Gave him a bowl of shrimp and a dish of water. He’s munching away. Kate will be soooo glad to have him back but first we have to go through the reintroduction drama. If I don’t let her walk the living room every night, she tears apart her tank. Bored, I guess, and really missing her buddy. I was on the floor doing my stretches one night and watching a documentary about the reissue of “ET.” Kate walked by and looked me in the eye with her little toasty brown face. Lol, I have my own little ET!
Carol (It’s almost over!)
Date: Sat Apr 6, 2002 12:15 pm
Subject: Jon’s Out! New Photos
Hi Gals and Guys, My sweet baby, Jonathan, is out and we’re all enjoying that! Whew. As usual, after almost four months apart, Kate doesn’t know Jon and is after his seashell again. I’m letting them meet a little at a time and it’s already working, peace is coming faster than the last few years of this reintroduction process. I’ve never seen Jon so still, hoping Kate wouldn’t notice him. He even did a sideways sneak, like a Chesapeake Bay crab, to slip away from her eyesight the first time out, lol. Fresh river gravel is waiting for the big exchange tomorrow, then both go to the main crabarium at last.
Six new photos are now posted taken yesterday (the last six). Go to (album no longer exists) to see some very toasty brown new
*3 Missing photos needed here*
Date: Tue Apr 9, 2002 10:39 am
Subject: Re: Land Hermit Crabs Jon’s Out! New Photos
Vanessa PikeRussell? wrote: “Wow! Great photos, Carol! Sure glad you got that Digital Camera!! I know you sexed Jon and Kate based on hairy legs *giggle* but have you tried since, based on location of gonopores?”
Yes, have inspected both of them for gonopores, don’t have any. Males, both of them. 🙁 Don’t tell Kate. “From what I have been reading, a lot of marine and land hermit crabs will mate just after moulting. Have you ever seen Kate try to drag Jon out of his shell and then do a ‘meeting’ of bodies? I could be way off, and just return to my old theory of their not realizing they know each other, shell fight etc but I just had to ask :)”
No, she usually rocks his shell from behind trying to drive him out. This year, she just tried to intimidate him head on. It’s stopped already since I let them get reintroduced slowly this time. They spent the night happy as two clams in their fresh main tank, Jon in his tree and Kate on her favorite security rock that I brought over from her molting tank. A little nervous about each other still, but getting used to each other again.
“Sounds like the large Green Turbos I am sending you will come in handy, if Kate really is trying to go for Jon’s shell yet again! :)”
Kate’s the one in the green turbo. Jon is in her old Fox shell that she lived in for over a year. She just wants to torment him, I think. I’m beginning to think it’s just a show of male dominance. Thank you so much for sharing the photos and news. I got a chuckle at the thought of Jon creeping about on tiptoe, trying to keep his new peripod tips from making noise as he evades Kate 😀 It really was funny to watch. I’ve never seen him so still as when she was looking for him and then the sideways creep.
“Big hugs to the fantastic crab mum!! Take Care, Vanessa”
Thanks, Vanessa, and everyone who wrote about the photos. I just got some non digital photos back today. One is of Jon in a bumpy Fox shell that Jenn sent to Jon. He couldn’t navigate in it but looked so cute! I’ll send it soon as I upload it from the Kodak disc.
Carol (working at keeping the peace)
Date: Tue May 14, 2002 4:24 am
Subject: Re: food calendar or schedule of eating varied diet
Bobjessk wrote: “what does everyone feed their crabs? I’d like to make a schedule of some varied
diet….. if someone can help.let me know.”
Hi Bob or Jess (?): In answer to a direct email to me from someone else, I responded with my crabs’ diet. A request was then made for posting it on the LandHermitCrabs site, so I gave my permission to have it posted there. Well, it only seems fair that I also post it here, my home club…. “In answer to your question about Jon and Kate’s diet, they eat FMR Land Hermit Crab Food and Treat, Tetra Baby Shrimp SunDried? Treat (favorite), a few other commercial foods that I grind up like Zoo Med. I grind all pellets. I never met a hermit crab who eats pellets. 🙂 They also nibble on Calcisand, which I keep in a bowl, and goldfish flakes. For calcium I give them boiled egg shells about once a week. They like spinach leaves, a little lettuce, brown oak leaves and boiled or microwaved tree bark (not cedar or pine). They just love bark and oak leaves. These too: bananas, apple slices, scrambled eggs on Saturday, a variety of dry cereals (including Kashi), occ. cookies. I just keep changing and trying new foods. They don’t like the same foods too frequently or even two nights in a row! I do sprinkle sea salt on their food a couple of times per week and am right now trying a little sea salt in a second water dish. I’ve already seen them drinking it. My crabs don’t care for peanut butter, popcorn, coconut, other fruits. I think Equadorians like these better, mine are PP’s. I really think that the key to their longevity (they’ll be 26 in August) is three things:
1) I keep a moist substrate (gravel) and the tank at 80% humidity and 80 degrees temp. They also molt in very moist fine gravel underground.
2) They walk around my living room almost every evening for exercise and fun. (I am blessed with a sunken living room, two steps down.)
3) I have only two hermit crabs and can easily keep track of when they want to molt, etc. They are buddies.” Well, there it is along with a few opinions, strictly mine, about their longevity.
Carol of CrabWorks
Date: Wed May 15, 2002 11:16 am
Subject: Land Hermit Crabs Re: food calendar or schedule of eating varied diet
Michael Lau wrote: “Do you mash the bananas? I gave them mashed bananas once, but it turned brown before they even noticed it was
in there so I tossed it. How long can you leave it in there?”
“On Monday, May 13, 2002, at 02:24 PM, crabworks wrote:
…These too: bananas, apple slices…”
Hi Michael, I just put a banana slice in a little dish or plastic bottle cap. They like to nibble the edges or even put some on their seashells (like a marine crab with a sea anemone). Mine don’t like it mashed. I only leave it in one night, gets moldy in a couple of days. Jeremy, I occasionally give my crabs a little Vienna sausage. Have done so for 25 years. I’ll check the dumps to see if there are any that have been sitting there un decomposed, lol. I don’t eat hot dogs either (well, one on the Fourth of July) and very rarely Vienna sausage. Apparently a little bit never hurt my crabs (or me) and they love it. I think NutraSweet? is probably a bigger killer than an occasional nitrite.
Carol Eating only good stuff
Date: Wed May 15, 2002 11:33 am
Subject: Re: Pennysaver Tank Wreckers 🙁
ladybug15057 wrote:” but after the way they are tearing up the tank, it’s impossible. The foller rocks are moved into the water dishes, the food dishes are completely turned upside down, and they are soaking..not dampening the sand. (I swear they have little buckets inside their large shells)… Marie”
Marie, when my crabs wreck a tank it’s because they want a place to dig down to molt. I think I posted a photo of the Legos that I tried to use as nest walls that they totally destroyed. I now use a good sized kidney shaped water dish and round glazed dishes for food or heavy marble candle holders, or heavy glass dishes that they now sell for crabs (formerly looked like ash trays). All these are sitting on a slab of slate, so that if they spill food, I can easily clean it up. But a total up upheaval means (in this house) that a crab wants to dig for a molt. Then he gets moved to the deep gravel molting tank which he also destroys a million times before he gets just what he wants.
Carol, the architect (Get well, Marie. You too, Vanessa.)
Date: Thu May 16, 2002 12:56 am
Subject: Land Hermit Crabs Re: food calendar or schedule of eating varied
crabworks wrote: “Jeremy, I occasionally give my crabs a little Vienna sausage.”
peripolak wrote:” I have fed mine bologna on occasion. The few that grabbed it first wouldn’t let go! Maryann”
I know what you mean, Maryann. (Balogna and V. sausage are close cousins.) I have to give my guys each a piece of sausage or else Kate sits on top of it and won’t give Jon a bite. Same with the Tetra shrimp. Each one gets a bowl and I set them down in front of it. You-know who would get them all if I only provided one dish. Last night they each licked the platters clean. Love those shrimp!
Date: Sun May 19, 2002 10:26 am
Subject: Re: Heater
veggielove200 wrote: “I just got an UTH today and I’m a little confused. Should I put something in between the tank and the carpet?? I really don’t want a big fire in my room. Oh, and should I leave it on at night??? Thanx!!!! Veggie”
Veggie, I would raise the tank on blocks at least. In a kitchen store you can buy aluminum pads (different sizes) with heat resistant material on the back. Putting this under the area of the UTH would prevent heat from getting to the carpet. But I would definitely raise the tank off the carpet. And, yes, you can leave it on all night. Just use a temp gauge to monitor it, especially at first.
Date: Sun Jul 7, 2002 12:55 am
Subject: Re: seaweed vs. iodine
hermit_crabs wrote: “Iodised salt (most types) allegedly contains Potassium Iodine (KI), whereas Seaweed/Kelp contains a complex Iodide. From what I am told, If it wasn’t complexed, then Kelp wouldn’t exist. It would fall to pieces. Vanessa”
Vanessa, just to revisit this subject a little, what about sodium iodide? My guy have been eating sea salt with magnesium carbonate and sodium iodide for a long time (Blue Crab Bay Co.). It’s easy to sprinkle compared to Instant Ocean, which is a synthetic sea salt with a bicarbonate buffer. Comments on this please? Thanks.
Date: Sun Jul 21, 2002 3:04 am
Subject: Sea Shell City Photos from CrabWorks
Hi guys and gals, I just spent four days in Rehoboth and Fenwick Island, DE, and, of course, enjoyed a long stay at Sea Shell City. There are some photos displayed of the biggest crab I’ve ever seen. He was a gentle guy in a beautiful white seashell. There are photos
of the jumbo crab cage, sea shell display…. Hope you enjoy them.
Go to (album no longer exists)
Carol (who loved every minute of it)
Date: Mon Jul 22, 2002 5:09 am
Subject: Re: Sea Shell City Photos from CrabWorks
hermit_crabs wrote:”Great Photos, Carol! Glad to hear you are back 🙂 We missed you! Wow, gorgeous Jumbos! I have one question: How did you resist the temptation??? Vanessa (typing left handed after an incident with a glass teapot that is no more lol”
I don’t know how I resisted, Vanessa. I keep thinking about him. He was so gentle and sweet. I’d have to build a gigantic tank and get him a friend. Could never handle all that gravel takes two hours to clean my tank now! Can you imagine building a molting nest for this guy? I don’t even want to go there. Glad you liked the photos; you too Sharon and Karen and….
Carol (I didn’t even ask how much he cost….)
Date: Sun Jul 28, 2002 4:49 am
Subject: Re: Sea Shell City Photos from CrabWorks
“That amazing jumbo (a PP actually, a Red?) is probably at least 30 years old, but more likely well past that. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it was determined that he was 75 years old. Think about it, Carol has two 26 year old crabs that are half? that size (Carol correct me if I am wrong). And they were raised in captivity with most likely the best of care, plenty of food, and controlled conditions, all of which would ensure maximum growth. That crab was probably grabbed from the shore not too long ago. He grew that big on his own in the wild while dealing with food shortages, humans, pollution, missing limbs, attacks from other crabs and the weather. Mike”
Hi Mike, Yes, my crabs will be 26 next month (and probably at least two years old when adopted). The are actually about two thirds the size of this guy at SSC who was actually in a shell that was a little big for him. I do think, however, that my crabs would be a lot bigger if they’d grown up in the wild like the crab (yes, probably a red) at SSC. I don’t know the reason that mine stay smaller. Even though they walk the living room almost every evening, they are confined to a tank much of the time and I suspect that is why they stay smaller perhaps growing to the size of their environment. Something that crabs get in the wild and the freedom to roam must contribute to their ability to grow bigger and bigger. Kate and Jon have seemed to have grown very slowly as they’ve gotten older. My guess is that the crab in the photo could be the same age as mine or he could be 50 or more years old. Even 75 as you suggest. I wish there were a way to really determine this while a crab is alive. I was asked whether his name was Zeuss…I don’t know. Lisa asked me the same question. She did see this crab earlier this summer. There were some other jumbos that were quite large in green turbos. Fortunately SSC refuses to sell them to little children, a wise decision. I also notice that some jumbos have very thick legs and pinchers whereas Kate and Jon are skinnier. No matter what I feed them and how good the conditions are, they really don’t match up to the wild jumbos. I have this guy’s printed photo sitting here and sure would have loved to have him here in person. Sigh. Thanks for your input, Mike, and all who saw the photos and wrote. I’ve not been here in Hermies for a few days. Your questions have been responded to correctly by others.
Carol, still dreaming
From: crabworks Date: Mon Jul 29, 2002 11:56 am
Subject: Re: Unexpected Death
Sharon O’Donoghue wrote:
“Hi everyone, I would just like to know that I discovered Grey Lady dead tonight. As I pulled her out of her shell a piece of gravel came out with her. She had a big black ulcer on her abdomen which I am assuming was formed because of this piece of gravel. So please anyone using gravel as a substrate beware that this might happen.”
Sharon, my sympathies on your loss of Grey Lady. I’ve used gravel of varying sizes for almost 26 years and I’ve never seen a piece get stuck inside a seashell. I would think, like Carolyn, that the crab would clean it out. Odd things do happen, however, and this is certainly something to ponder. Let’s hope that, if this was really the cause of death, we don’t encounter it again. Not your fault, of course, so don’t feel that it was. Can you imagine how much junk gets into the shells of crabs in the wild? And we don’t give them nearly as many hazards.
Best wishes, Carol
Date: Mon Sep 9, 2002 1:33 am
Subject: Re: Jumbo?
Nicole wrote: “Does anyone know where to purchase a JUMBO crab…like a really big guy? Do they require different care? CrabHappy? Nicole”
Hi, Nicole. I need to jump in here and advise you to not get a jumbo crab until you have a LOT of crab experience. Yes, the needs are different, including what others have said about space, etc. But my main concern would be for molting. It is very difficult for a jumbo crab to molt. It takes a long time (months),a special nest usually built by you, deep moist gravel, and a lot of experience on your part to provide and maintain all this. I was with Lisa, and experienced crabber, a year ago when she adopted a jumbo crab. Gertrude molted a year later, and Lisa had to do surgery on one leg that couldn’t shed the exoskeleton. She used fine scissors and tools and did it successfully, with a slightly curved leg as a result. If you’re not prepared with this kind of experience, I’d stick to the smaller crabs for now. Trust me in this. Hard to tell how old a hermit crab is. Mine are 26 raised in captivity and are pretty big, but if they had grown up in the wild with tons of space and other essentials we still don’t know about, I’m sure they would be quite a bit bigger than they are now. Hope my humble opinion sheds some light on the subject.
Date: Mon Sep 16, 2002 5:33 am
Subject: Re: carol of CrabWorks?
Nicole wrote: “I think it would be a GREAT idea if Carol from CrabWorks? came out with a detailed caresheet. …each time I visit her webpage I hope to see a section on care. Nicole”
Well, Nicole, I keep trying to do that. Since Vanessa already has a detailed care sheet, I thought I’d just write up some tips on what I’ve done over the years that might be unique and some crazy experiences. I actually did start it; now if I could only find the time…. Thanks for the encouragement.
Carol of CW
Date: Mon Sep 16, 2002 6:18 am
Subject: Re: carol of crab works
“nicole wrote: Carol, when your crabs where younger and they first started to molt, how did you address this? Did you move them immediately upon seeing the signs or did you let them molt in the tank? Being you have had your crabs so long, I would most likely mirror what you have done over the years. Nicole”
Nicole, sorry to take so long. Just catching up on the posts. In answer to your question about my crabs’ molting when they were young: I never saw any signs. I had a slab rock on top of the moist gravel of one or more inches deep, and they would just dig under and stay there until they molted and ate their exo’s. Sometimes I lifted the rock to see if all was well, since it was all a new experience for me. This happened in the regular tank; I never had a molting tank in those days. As they grew larger, and it seemed that they always molted at the same time, I tried putting a piece of slate between two nests in the same end of the tank. That didn’t last for long, so I eventually used a molting tank for one and left the other in the regular tank which is what I do now. Of course, now it’s all gotten very complicated since not just any nest will do! I shudder to even think about the next time. As for mirroring what I do, I think these crabs are all different. Don’t know how to explain that some molt above ground that folks see cloudy eyes, sponge hanging, etc. These are things I’ve never seen. Digging is the only clue (more than just regular digging) they tear up the place. Then I know it’s time. Then I grit my teeth and dig in, so to speak.
Date: Tue Sep 17, 2002 1:10 am
Subject: Land Hermit Crabs Re: carol of crab works
nicole wrote: “It sounds like you have had Jon and Kate solitary, am I right? Most people on this list seem to have a lot of crabs…I am even finding myself getting more (they are so irresistible). But since I don’t ever hear you talk about others, I’m assuming you have been putting your efforts into a very small colony or just the two, am I right?”
Nicole, I had only one other hermit crab, years ago. He was a teeny guy, who died mysteriously under the rock during his third molt. He may have been done in by my other guys. I decided then that Kate and Jon didn’t need another crab to pester them as this little guy did. I’ve observed from others that it’s not so easy to keep track of a lot of crabs and meet their molting needs. Yes, some do it successfully, but I’m going to stick with what works for my two and what I have room for. It’s different as they get older? I mean do you have to actually build a nest for them as opposed to letting them do it? Yes I do. They are too big to dig under a rock, and they dig so much (as of they were headed to China) that any rock or roof would just fall in on them after one night. So the roof has to be propped up by something and weighted down. There are pictures of this on my photo site and maybe still in the Hermies photo folder (Carol’s). I tried Lego walls last year, a total bust. I remember someone here telling me not to get a jumbo right now because of my newness to the whole crab thing and because it does get more complicated. Well, I wrote that. I see folks wanting these big crabs and then not having enough experience to get them through a molt. My experience tells me that it’s better to adopt a baby and learn how to raise him than to start out with a teenager. 🙂
Carol, with Jon and Kate, happy as two clams
Date: Tue Sep 17, 2002 1:14 am
Subject: Re: Hairy Crabs and got job at pet store!
heidioftroy wrote:” I have yet another question…..Some of my crabs are very hairy near their joints…I mean they have those whiskers all over, but near their joints and claws, there are these thick rows of brassy golden hair….not soft…..its really golden…It’s on 2 of my pp’s. Does this have to do with gender?”
Well, Heidi, it’s my understanding that males have the hairy legs and tufts of golden hair that you describe. I read it somewhere long ago, can’t remember where. I didn’t see this on my crabs until they were older.
Date: Tue Sep 17, 2002 1:36 am
Subject: Re: Question for molters…
ladybug15057 wrote: “This sounds ‘similar’ to what Carol does for Jon & Kate, except your hermies do it. 🙂 I remember reading, (a lot of her ‘methods are in the archives here on Hermies…..thanks Carol for sharing), that she only dampens the substrate over the UTH enough that it will dry within a certain amount of time. This way, there isn’t a chance of a bacteria growing, and her tank stays ‘fresh’. 🙂
From memory, Carol has her ‘method’ down to a fine art. 😀
Take care, Marie”
Thanks, Marie. However, for the record, I do keep all the gravel moist. It just dries out faster over the UTH, about every other day, so Ihave to keep re wetting it there. About once a week the rest of the gravel gets moistened. No problems with bacterial contamination, but I only have two crabs whose food bowl is on a big slab of slate, less likely to drop in the gravel. The UTH covers about 1/5th of the bottom of the tank. I may try what you just described, however, just to see if I can keep the humidity up with only the UTH gravel wet. I would have to clean the gravel less often that way. Always ready to try something different.
Carol (a little anxious about meddling with success)
Date: Wed Sep 18, 2002 1:20 am
Subject: Land Hermit Crabs Re: Question for molters… crablover wrote:” How do you get the slab of rock? I’ve been looking for a way to solve the problem of spilling food and/or water into the substrate.”
Mostly I use slabs of slate. I picked up a big, thick one in an old aquarium store last year which I used for Jon’s molting roof last time. (Photo may still be in Hermies file.) But the other thinner slabs came from my friend’s roof. In 1989 a giant tree hit her house during a big storm knocking off big and small pieces of slate. I was able to bring some home and they have come in very handy. (This is a drastic way to get slate!) Sometimes flower shops or aquarium stores have pieces of slate. Maybe you could look in the phone book or Internet to find some; builders should have it, although most use cheaper roof shingles today. Lots of crafters paint designs on slate; maybe they could tell you where to get it. It makes great place mats, sitting places, and molting roofs (rooves?). Hope you find some, and if you do, tell us all where you got it. 🙂 Blessings back to you and your crabbie.
Date: Wed Sep 18, 2002 1:42 am
Subject: Re: CarolJon? & Kate (was Question for molters)
ladybug15057 wrote: “Sorry, I was mistaken. I did remember reading that you pour water over the UTH, because it dries faster there. I didn’t realize you kept all the gravel moist. Don’t apologize, Marie. You have a fantastic memory for all the details about how people do crabbing and it comes in handy for all of us. I don’t know how you do it, but if I ever forget what I’ve done, I’ll call on you. I have a question, that I don’t remember ever reading an answer to. How did it come about that you adopted Jon & Kate? Were they from a local pet store as a gift, souvenirs from a vacation, or a pet you decided you wanted, or?????”
In 1976 (before most of you were born), I went to Bethany Beach, DE with some friends for a week. One told me, driving over in the car, of reading about these hermit crabs that live in seashells that make good pets. I was fascinated. She bought one right away, but I thought he was a pretty homelylooking critter. After a week, watching him crawl in and out of her suitcase, I fell in love with him and had to have one for my very own. So at Ocean City, on the way home, I adopted Jonathan Livingston Crab. (For you youngsters out there, “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” was an extremely popular book in 1970, even made the cover of Time Magazine.) About two weeks later, I went to an aquarium store in VA to get a glass tank for Jon, and there was Crab Kate, begging to come home with me to be Jon’s buddy. A friend in my microbiology lab suggested the name even before I got her, so I was ready. A few years later she adopted a daughter, named her Kate. 🙂 Several years later this same friend talked me into getting a teenie weenie crab at Myrtle Beach (“Who else will take him?”). Sweet little Crabby Hayes pestered J & K but lived through two molts and died mysteriously during the third. Will never know the real reason, don’t want to know. That’s the basic story. One of these days I’ll write up all of these stories.
Carol Who would’ve known that 26 years later….
Date: Wed Sep 25, 2002 4:27 am
Subject: Re: Carol @ crabworks
nicole wrote: ” Carol (or if she’s busy anyone who knows)
What type of substrate do you use???
Nicole “Uncoated river gravel, moist, in main tank. Very fine gravel (hard to get now), very moist, in molting tank. You can see both in my Yahoo folder on Hermies. The fine stuff is in the photo of the Lego walls that they tore asunder. Jon is in the main tank photo with regular gravel after a molt.
Date: Sun Sep 29, 2002 10:40 am
Subject: Land Hermit Crabs Re: Carol @ crabworks
crablover wrote:” How do you keep it moist and not develop bacteria? Seems like it would be extremely hard to not have a problem.
Well, Amy, I just don’t have problems. I keep it clean, it dries out fast from the UTH, and it’s not deep. I think sand is probably harder to control. Really deep gravel or sand would more likely get contaminated. In the molting tank it’s deeper but I watch it and don’t have a problem. One more thing, I only have two crabs who don’t drag food all over the tank. Well mannered, you see. 🙂
Carol (Pollution/contamination only once with coated gravel)
PS: Was a clinical micro biologist very tuned into bacteria. They know better than to mess with me or my crabs.
Date: Tue Oct 8, 2002 9:53 am
Subject: Re: Cleaning shells
Maryann Ponte wrote: “Does anybody have an effective way to clean/wipe out the inside of a shell?? Maryann”
Well, nobody’s answered yet, Maryann. I just fill them with water and put them in a bowl of water and microwave about four minutes (boiling). Then I shake them well to get out the junk. This is my process for new shells or ones that have been used by one crab and discarded. The other crab always wants hand me downs. Maybe a bent bottle brush would work to reach inside? Or Qtips? Your pinky?
Date: Thu Oct 24, 2002 1:29 am
Subject: Re: Update on my Hermies..for this month! Oct
My old crabs have always dug under a piece of slate or a rock to molt. Now I have to provide these with posts to hold them up. As much as I believe that they need a moist substrate in which to molt properly, I really don’t think they dig under water dishes in order to moisten the substrate or under food dishes to have a snack after molting. (I know you were joking, Marie.) I believe what everyone is seeing is the need for a crab to burrow under something flat in order to make a nest and to feel a protective roof overhead. And I’m sure it helps if water is spilled in the process, even if accidental. I’m a firm believer in a moist molting substrate. Guess y’all know that. 🙂
I’ve been thinking this over for a long time. My thoughts comes from personal observations. Any takers on this?
Carol of CrabWorks
Date: Sun Oct 27, 2002 12:57 pm
Subject: Re: Carol
Nicole wrote: Carol: How do you know how to build the nests?? I have seen your website many times, and I still don’t understand how
you came up with the whole nest thing?”
Nicole, they chose this way when they molted under flat rock roofs when they were small. As they got bigger, I had to raise the roof and put some kind of posts there to hold up the roof. Then I can keep a shallow gravel end of the tank and a deep end with a roof. They can then dig in when they choose, which is usually right away. However, they don’t stay there anymore; they go in and out and in and out…I have to rebuild almost every evening for weeks. “I saw a photo of one of your crabs in a molting tank, with a plexi glass cover and what looked like toilet tissue rolls holding it up…and you had a heavy rock on top of it.” Hah, tissue rolls of cardboard and would dissolve in my moist gravel. What you see in the photos is blocks of plastic, one long, two short, that I got at a plastic/Plexiglas store. The rock was to hold down the roof when they vigorously dig. They like to throw it off, over and over.” “Why can’t your crabs molt the way they used to?” Oh I wish. They are just too big. They dig around so much that a big rock or slate would just cave in after they dig and dig and dig and….”Do you keep them like that just until after the exo is thrown? What do you do with them after the whole process is finished?” They stay there until the exo is “thrown” (heh heh) and until the entire exo is eaten (they only leave toe points) and then a week or more after that. They used to come out on their own, but now I decide when enough is enough and help them out so they can eat and drink and re acclimate to the world and to me. Hope that explains a little.
PS: Believe me, if they could just do it the way they used to, I’d be most grateful. If I had a HUGE tank with really deep gravel…well, I don’t and it would be hard to keep it warm enough and would require a whole lot of gravel for poor mom to wash. I can’t even find any more fine gravel. So…the architect is always on duty. 🙂
Date: Sat Nov 30, 2002 6:27 am
Subject: Re: Land Hermit Crabs forest bedding…you’ll never guess!
crablover wrote: “What to use for dividers in substrate separation? Anything? Any ideas? Thanks.”
Hi gals and guys, After reading so much about forest bed (bedding), I decided to try it. I got the brick (TRex) sawed into quarters and soaked one part. Then I built a Lego wall across the main tank, and filled about a quarter of the tank with forest bedding. The Lego wall works perfectly, amazingly enough (middle size Legos), with gravel on one side and about two inches of forest bedding on the other. Well, my two crabs don’t seem overjoyed to have it. They take occasional walks in it, but mostly stay on the gravel side. I’ve tried it with and without a UTH under it. At least they haven’t dragged much of it into the gravel. It was worth a try. Maybe at molt time they’ll like it. I’ll leave it there a little longer in the main tank. I just wanted to tell you that a Lego wall works really well here. Legos didn’t work as walls to hold up a slate roof when they were building molting nests. Jon and Kate totally destroyed the walls as they attempted to dig to China. If you remember, I even rubber banded the Legos together, and they pinched apart all the rubber bands. Seems, in what I’ve been able to read here, that the little crabs like this Forest Bed the best. And the jumbos seem not to give a hoot.
Date: Fri Dec 6, 2002 4:00 am
Subject: Re: Carol: FB
Nicole wrote: “PS: Do you give Kate & Jon any goodies from your table??”
Niole Oops, I never answered this. No, Nicole, not really…except for apple cores with some apple skin attached. I’ve tried chicken bones, salmon, etc. Not interested. Occasional corn chips, pretzels and such seem to please them. About the coconut forest bed, some digging has occurred but I think I’ll remove it and keep it for the molting tank in the future. Not really deep enough at the end of the main tank to bury themselves.
Date: Sun Dec 8, 2002 7:36 am
Subject: A Little Humor at CrabWorks
Hi gang, Today I received a postcard from PETCO that says this: We opened our files and found with a smile, that your pet is due to be groomed! Just make an appointment, avoid disappointment… We’ll spruce ’em up, comb ’em out and shampoo!
Wow, Jon and Kate, guess what you’re getting for Christmas!
Carol (Gee, at least it could rhyme but no wonder they’re smiling.)
Date: Sat Dec 28, 2002 6:42 am
Subject: Re: humidity
mweaver425 wrote: I just got a reptile humidity and temperature gauges. (TRex Combo Pak thermometer/humidity gauge) What should the reading of my humidity gauge be for my tank? Does this gauge read relative or actual humidity? (I know the tank should be between 50-60% actual and 70-80% relative) Thanks!”
From what I’ve understand from Marie, the TRex? reads actual humidity and the ZooMed? reads relative humidity. I keep my tank around 80% relative humidity reading it with a ZooMed?. It’s really confusing,isn’t it?
Date: Wed Jan 1, 2003 9:50 am
Subject: Land Hermit Crabs Re: carol of crabworks
My goodness, thanks to all of you for your very kind words. You are an inspiration to me too. Right now I have Jon in the forest bed molting tank (he suddenly started digging after Kate went back with him last night and told him about the whole tank of this stuff; this is more energy than he’s shown for weeks). And Kate is digging in the gravel in the main tank. Come on guys, this is way to early to molt! They have a mind of their own and I certainly don’t feel like the expert here. Should I give up the FB? Should I go back to fine gravel? Should I change both tanks back to regular river rock? Helllllp! How do you serve food in this stuff? They just fill up the dish and the water dish with FB and make mud pies, leaving no drinking water and buried food. I’ve tried slate place mats; they just dig under them. What’s a mother to do? This is too hard; I should’ve had a dog.
Carol HAPPY NEW YEAR!)
crablover wrote: “Agreed. Thanks, Carol for your response and for your encouragement in the past. Blessings, Amy”
Nicole wrote: “I want to take this time to tell you how much you have influenced my love of crabs. It wasn’t until I saw Kate & Jon that I dove into searching for Yahoo groups and finding everyone here. You, Kate & Jon really are an inspiration to everyone. Keep up the wonderful work.”
“Nicole I agree. Carol has done an excellent job with Kate &John. She certainly has inspired me to try my very best to do what my hermies need to survive for a long long time. Lucinda”
CrabWorks wrote: “You are all such a treat to me.
Date: Fri Jan 3, 2003 6:25 am
Subject: Re: molting and substrate
Susan Yee wrote: Can someone tell us what is the upper limit for gravel size that our crabs can use for digging/molting? Just about all the stuff we’ve seen on molting talks about using sand or coconut fiber. Thanks. Susan Yee (Chicago area, Illinois USA)”
Hi Susan. My two jumbo crabs have always molted underground in a fine gravel (like the kind that was used in fish tanks years ago). It’s very hard to find now, but there are finer gravels than the regular river rock. Just be sure that whatever gravel you use, it’s not coated. I’ve been trying forest bed (an area blocked off in the main tank and a deep tankful in the molting tank.) They love to burrow in it and make a total mess, but they won’t stay under, not even with a roof of slate. I think they are too big for this stuff, and their molts take so long, that I’m concerned about mold for such a long period of time (up to four months), which has been seen my two of us recently. Today I’m doing tank cleaning, back to river gravel in the main tank. Later I’m going to try the same in the molting tank in place of the FB and the previous fine gravel. I think they are big enough now to handle it for molting. You just have to experiment with gravels. Sooo, I’m not sure who sells fine gravel anymore but it’s worth looking for if your crabs are underground molters like mine. I never use sand because I keep my substrate very moist, more suitable with gravel. (No, I don’t get bacterial contamination.) You might try starting a “nest” for them under a slate roof (or other flat thing). I hold my roofs up with small plastic food containers; used to use film cartridges when they were small. Check my photo site for photos of the fine gravel under a Plexiglas roof. I can’t seem to link it here, but go to google.com and write in crabworks. It’s a geocities site.
I wish you success.
Carol of CrabWorks
Date: Sat Jan 4, 2003 9:54 am
Subject: Re: Carol of CrabWorks? (Nicole and Susan)
Nicole wrote: “Carol, Just out of curiosity: What type of water do you use for your crabs?? And have you always used the same water?
thanks Ni[oLe RuSSeLL”
For many years I used regular tap water. They drank it,showered under the faucet in it… never any problems. Vanessa thinks that maybe chloramines weren’t in the water in those days, or at least not as much. Now they drink and bathe in Brita filtered water. I still drink tap water, lol. Susan, let us know what Estes has to say. I think I’ve emailed them in the past looking for fine gravel. They might have just sent their website, can’t remember. Always worth asking these folks for what we want. I constantly keep my eye out for fine gravel. Years ago they put it in bird cages to help with their digestion and in fish tanks. Don’t know why it’s disappeared.
Date: Tue Jan 7, 2003 2:05 pm
Subject: Re: cardboard and the UTH
“Dianne wrote: Using wadded up aluminum foil to hold up the UTH is a great idea! Someone responded with that and it is pure genius. You can easily make any size you need and it won’t be affected by the heat of the unit either. Dianne
I had suggested the aluminum foil. This was shared with me by a member here ‘months’ ago, and it does work great. Only the very tip of the foil touches the UTH too. 🙂 Ready……the genius that shared her idea was…….drum roll please……….MARYANN!!!!!!! 😀
Take care, Marie”
Maryann just told me about the foil idea. I’ve never adhered my UTH to the underside of the tank. I put an aluminum hotplate under the tank to protect the furniture and used to use potholders to hold the UTH next to the glass. This weekend I tried the crumpled aluminum foil (on top of the hotplate) and it works great! Not so nervous now about those potholders catching fire. My foil make pretty good contact with the UTH. As I’m sure you all do, I leave on the sticky paper with that side against the bottom of the tank. My thanks to Maryann too!
Date: Wed Feb 5, 2003 2:05 am
Subject: Re: Just wondering
cliffiedq wrote: “What is the longest you’ve ever had a hermit survive in captivity? And what do you consider the secret to successful crab survival?”
Two PP crabs, twenty six and a half years contentedly living in our home. Secret: moist gravel, exercise nightly (walking the living room, constant temperature and humidity, a variety of foods including bark and brown oak leaves, a moist gravel molting tank with a roof provided to burrow under, not scaring, aggravating or over handling them; tender, loving care with an unwavering respect for their needs) being accountable to provide such at all times. And…pacing the floor a lot during molting time. Otherwise, your guess is as good as mine. 🙂
PS: Replying to expected followup questions: They came from two different stores in August, 1976 and, I know, they are probably older than most of you. I’ve only had one other tiny hermit crab, Crabby Hayes, who mysteriously died quite young. I got him a few years later than the other two.
Carol of CrabWorks with Jonathan Livingston Crab and Crab Kate
Date: Sun Oct 27, 2002 5:52 am
Subject: Re: Melissa’s Molter Study??100 Molts!!!!!
Hi Marie and the molting watchers out there. The feelings never ease any , you are right. Every time, after 26 years, has been a time of excitement and relief. 🙂 At least they used to build their own nests; only the last fifteen years or so have I had to build them. Or twenty, maybe. But each year get harder as they get fussier and take longer for the whole process. I guess they are just too big and maybe dread it as much as I do. Jon and Kate are still digging little sitting places in the gravel, which have taken the place of their tree, I think. The driftwood tree, almost as old as they are, is out of favor right now. Boooring! It’s really too soon for a molt and they haven’t destroyed the tank…but some mornings they sure have moved a lot of slate, rocks, and dishes around. I really don’t know what in the world they are doing. So I’m waiting for a bigger dig and hoping they wait a while. Good grief, I haven’t recovered from the last time yet!
Carol…trying to ignore it all.
Date: Tue Jan 21, 2003 5:01 am
Subject: Re: Land Hermit Crabs Hi, I’m new here!!! (M)
ladybug15057 wrote: “It also stated about also sexing the hermies by the ‘hairy leg method’. This theory doesn’t work either. I had sexed hermies by this method, and one in particular, King Crab. ‘She’ was very much a ‘she’. (Carol also sexed Jon &; Kate by this method years ago……and well……Kate is a ‘He’ hermie……shhhhhh don’t tell Kate) Marie”
Carol here. One little clarification to offer: I named Kate and Jonathan before I had a clue what sex they were. Later I read that crabs who have hairy legs when they are older are males. That’s when I suspected that Kate was a male; both had hairy legs when they got older. Later, when the info became available, I checked for gonopores and they have none. I haven’t met any known female crabs to check for hairy legs, but with my two…it seems to be the case. The naming, however, came before the hairy legs. And you’re right, I haven’t told Kate…but I suspect she knows. A Boy Named Sue….
Carol, commenting for the record.
Date: Wed Feb 5, 2003 10:49 pm
Subject: One more Kate photo
I found the photo of Kate in the sixinch Fox next to a Chapstick for size comparison. She’s now in Jon’s old smaller Fox, way too tight, but she likes it. BTW, I clicked on All Albums at the top to get to my folder. A list came up and I clicked on Carol. Hope you get there.
Date: Thu Feb 6, 2003 9:08 am
Subject: Re: To Carol:
Paula wrote: “Have you ever had the “urge” to get more crabbies??”
Paula…Are you kidding? You bet! But little Crabby Hayes really pestered Jon and Kate, so after him, I decided no more. But I saw two returned E’s at my local aquarium store last year, watched them for hours, got the store guy to give them gravel, salt water, food…I came home and got shells for them. I was dying to adopt those little guys. But…I truly believe that you should only have what you can properly take care of. I could not manage another tank, with all that gravel to wash. Also very hard to find brave souls who are willing to watch these guys when I go on a trip. I can’t imagine telling someone, “Now these need salt water and fresh fruit, and these jumbos are molting….” So I just look and enjoy hearing about everyone else’s crabs. “How often do they molt at this age?? I think I’ve seen pix of all of their shells lined up from out growing, am I correct that these are yours?” Those are mine. Those shells were only from ’76 through ’85. I’d never be able to remember the shells used since then to take another photo like this. As youngsters, they molted several times a year. This last time was about sixteen, or maybe eighteen months, and from start to finish, the whole event took almost four months. They usually molt about the same time. Strangely, they are digging now and it’s way too early for another molt. I’m going to let Jon have a go at the FB tank again soon, just to see if he really means it.
Carol, still guessing after all these years
Date: Thu Feb 6, 2003 8:52 am
Subject: Land Hermit Crabs Re: Just wondering
Crablover wrote: “Are Kate and John both boys, or girls, or what? LOL. Praying that they live lots longer. So exciting. Amy”
Hi Amy, They are both boys. They each have hairy legs and no gonopores. I’ve never mentioned it to Kate. BTW, I’ll try to put a photo or two in the photo section in the Carol folder if there’s room. First Kate got into a very big Fox shell, then Jon got into a beautiful green and pearl turbo. Kate immediately changed into Jon’s reallllly old Fox, which she had occupied the year before it’s too small for her, but she won’t leave it. Someone got into another new green turbo in all this switching, didn’t stay long, but I got a photo. Ah, I remember, it was Kate. At this rate, I’m losing track of who is who, lol.
Date: Thu Feb 6, 2003 9:32 am
Subject: Photos Jon Kate New Shells
Well, there’s not much room left. But I deleted a few oldies, left a few, and added some with Kate and Jon in their recent shells. At the moment, Jon is in the Pearl/green Turbo, and Kate is in Jon’s old Fox (which used to be hers). Go to (album no longer exists). I had to root around to get there. I think I clicked on See All Files (?). Hope you get an idea of how big these guys are getting. Hmm, I have one with the new Fox next to a chapstick. I’ll see if I can find it.
Date: Sun Feb 9, 2003 4:32 pm
Subject: Land Hermit Crabs
Re: Just wondering
Crablover wrote: “How big are they now, and how on earth do you find shells big enough? Aren’t they bigger than baseball size? God bless. Amy”
No, they are more like tangerine size. I go to Sea Shell City in Fenwick Island, Delaware and to Sea Shell Shops in Rehoboth Beach, Maryland and choose the shells. I usually take along a previous shell so I can get the size right. They are not cheap, especially those pretty turbos. Check my photos to get an idea of the size these guys are now. I’m sure they’d be a lot bigger if they had grown up in the wild, but they do keep growing.
Date: Sun Feb 9, 2003 4:43 pm
Subject: Re: Question for Carol of Crabworks:
LeeAnn955 wrote: “Carol, you said you give Kate and Jon dried oak leaves. I also did that this fall, and my hermies loved them! My hermies nibbled on the leaves as well as picking up, digging through, and rearranging them. Here’s my question: Do you offer the leaves year round, or just in the fall when the leaves are fresh off the trees? Do the leaves store well?”
Hi Karen. In the fall, I gather the cleanest brown leaves that I can find, away from traffic areas, and feed them to my crabs all year. I store them in an open plastic bag on a kitchen shelf where they stay dry and they last all year. I break them in half only so that Jon and Kate each have a piece without a tugofwar. As with egg shells, they prefer crunching them themselves. I leave them there until they finish, but remove them if they get wet or old. Usually they eat the whole leaf and leave the stem. More on this subject when I reply to the next post.
“I’m thinking ahead to next fall, and could I store the leaves in say, a shoe box in a cool, dry place, so they wouldn’t mold. I would put a couple of whole leaves in the tank, and within a day or two the leaves were shredded into pieces, so I didn’t bother crumbling them up myself. I left that pleasure for the hermies. Thanks!
Date: Sun Feb 9, 2003 7:13 pm
Subject: Re: Question for Carol of Crabworks:
Debbie Haake wrote: “And since you are asking anyway, I would like to know how you find oak leaves that have not been sprayed with pesticide? Do you just find some, and then wash them off, and find that this is sufficient? thanks, Debbie aka RoseLand”
Hi Debbie, I try to get oak leaves when they first fall in neighborhoods where there’s little pollution from traffic and in areas where there probably has not been spraying. I do wash them well and rinse with filtered water. (What a fanatic! These guys drank tap water for years! See what you guys have done to me? LOL) I don’t use green leaves, and the fresh brown ones do tend to darken over the year. But they love them. Karen’s response about pesticides sounded right to me. I collected a bunch of a variety of colored leaves this fall, maple and others, which I put on the floor just because they were pretty and still are. Jon and Kate walk over them all the time but never stop to take a bite. Maybe they are just on a mission or maybe they don’t like these for eating. I’ve not put any leaves other than oak in the tank for eating, since I didn’t want to argue with success. Crabs in the wild must eat leaf litter all the time, and of course, bark. That’s where I got the idea years ago, before books and the Internet. 🙂
Date: Mon Feb 10, 2003 6:26 am
Subject: Re: Leaves for food or treat
Bob wrote: “First I’ve heard of the leaf being used for food. I’ve got a huge magnolia tree I planted in my yard about 15 years ago, beautiful tree, not your ordinary tree leaf your talking about, but I’m not even going to go there! LOL Bob”
Hello Bob! I haven’t had the chance to talk to you, but I enjoy your humor. I’ve been promoting oak leaves for years, and Jon and Kate have one every week as a staple. No, I don’t think I’d try those magnolia leaves. But who knew that oak leaves were okay when I first tried them? Sometimes we just have to experiment. Also, to the others who wrote, I usually pick up the fresh brown leaves from a sidewalk,not from the ground. I do inspect them for bugs, mold, weird spots. There are so many available that choosing is easy.
That’s it today from CrabWorks on oak leaves
Carol (not a leaf specialist, just lucky)
Date: Wed Mar 5, 2003 4:26 am
Subject: CrabWorks Update
Hi Group. Haven’t posted for a while…too busy shoveling snow. Just wanted to update you on my two crabs (now 26 ½; years old).
Both were digging off and on even tho’ it’s a good while early for molting about 10 months. Last time was about 16 months. I put Kate into the FB tank again. (They had both made mudpies of themselves previously in this tank.) It’s deep and she burrowed like a mole for several days until she settled under the slate roof I had provided. That was about two weeks ago, and she has been quiet as a mouse ever since, sitting in the corner. I’ve checked twice, she’s okay. Jon, in his new pearl/green turbo got bored without Kate, chirped a little, and then started digging in the main tank. So I built up the river rock at one end with a slate roof. He dug in, out, in again, and has been there ever since…for about a week. He’s been a bit restless at times, picking at the silicone in the corner until he almost drove me nuts, but now he’s quiet too. Pretty quiet, anyway. This is the fastest I’ve ever had either crab settle down into a nest for molting. Usually it takes a month or two of rebuilding the nests, until I’m worn to a frazzle. I’m elated that it’s happened so fast. Now we’ll see how long it takes to actually molt. Since we’ve had such a cold and snowy winter, I’ve worked hard to keep these guys warm with blankets and towels around their two tanks. I’m trying my best to not peek sure does make them nervous. I’m more and more convinced that they like total dark and privacy. Since I’m new to FB, it’s tricky to monitor the moistness, but it’s not easy to keep gravel moist either. Dries out faster, and we don’t like dry substrates in this house, especially for molting. :)Well, that’s it from CrabWorks and the Molting Factory.
Carol, trying to remain calm
Date: Wed Mar 19, 2003 2:55 am
Subject: Re: Land Hermit Crabs
Surprise MoltCrab? Kate!
Ladyjai wrote: “What kind/brand of FB do you use? jessica”
Hi Jessica, I use TRex Forest Bed, got it at PETCO. At the time (and maybe now) I got two for the price of one. It’s pretty cheap anyway. One brick makes a lot since it swells eight times its size.
Update: Kate’s new legs are very brown already, with new toe points and all. She’s busily munching on the exo. Sometimes I can hear her take a bite. I only peak about every three days. Jonathan is quiet today after a restless day yesterday. I added a little water near his nest which looked too dry, and it made him fussy. What’s a mom to do. Thanks to all the wellwishers for your cheers for Kate! I am most pleased.