Common Name: Hermit Crab
Type: Marine animal
Range: There are some land hermit crabs and few crabs that live in the ocean. There are more than 500 species of hermit crabs that are found all over the world. The majority of these live in the ocean and the few live on land. Ocean hermit crabs are found off North and South America, coast of Europe and Australia and different parts of Costa Rica. Land hermit crabs are found in warm places like the Caribbean, Florida, and Australia.
Size: As the hermit crab grows in size, it has to find a larger shell and abandon the previous one. This habit of living in a second hand shell gives rise to the popular name “hermit crab”, The hermit crab carapace lengths are up to 43mm or (1.7in). However, it can be shorter or longer depending on the species.
Diet: Hermit crab are omnivores, they eats both plants and animals. They are not picky eaters. In fact, what hermit crabs eat is similar to a healthy human diet: fish, meat, vegetables and fresh fruits. Hermit crabs will eat a wide variety of foods. They are also called scavengers as they can eat dead plants and animals.
Average life span: Hermit crabs live about 7 years in wild but some can live as long as 15 years in captivity. They are nocturnal and they move around at night.
Habitat:Hermit Crabs have over five hundred different species. Few are aquatic and others are terrestrial. The aquatic hermit crab habitat ranges from the shallow waters of the coral reefs and shores to the depths of the bottom of the sea. The ideal place to see for them are the inter-tidal areas.The terrestrial hermit crabs are normally found in the tropics. They can be found in all parts of Costa Rica and their National Parks.
Breeding/Reproduction: Hermit crabs reproductive (sexual) organs are just below the heart and open outside at the base of the last pair of walking legs in the males. In females, they are located at the base of the middle pair of walking legs. Female hermit crabs usually lay their eggs shortly after copulating but they can also store male sperm for several months. The eggs are fertilized through the chamber holding the sperm. The eggs are carried and hatched in a mass closed to the abdomen within the shell. The eggs are normally in large numbers, but all is depend on the size of the animal.
The younger does grow at a quicker rate, they can molt every few months. Adult hermit crabs have a propensity to molt every 18 months or so.
Relatives: The hermit crab’s relatives are the lobster and spider.
Hermit Crabs belong to the super family of Paguroidea in the order of Decapoda. They have delicate and exposed abdomen. So in order for them to protect themselves from predators they usually find a discarded shell like snail shell where they will use as their shield. Hermit crabs will squeeze their body right in the shell. They will just leave their head and some legs outside. Then you can see them carrying that shell wherever they go. Hence the name Hermit Crabs. But if they get bigger they will find another much bigger shell than the old one they have.
There are over 500 types of hermit crabs are available around the Globe. Different Species of hermit crabs live in different places. The Giant, Land and Striped hermit crabs are found in the United States and West Indies. The Coconut Hermit crabs are mostly found in the South Pacific. Hermit crabs are both land and sea dwellers. The hermit crab that adopts the marine life can be found in shoal coral reefs and along the shores but some were in the deep bottom part of the sea. The land dwellers are usually inhabits the tropical and temperate places.
Hermit Crab’s physical characteristics include an elongated winding curved and soft abdomen. The average lengths of adult hermit crabs are 13 to 21 millimeters (mm). Since hermit crabs carry the shell they inhabits, upon threat they can retreat inside. But like all living things they too will grow and become bigger. So they will find another shell which can housed their bigger body. Some species of hermit crabs when in groups used the “vacancy chain” system. It means that when the biggest crabs in the pack discard its shell and move to much bigger shell, the second biggest crab will move to that discarded shell. Then other follows like a chain.
Hermit crabs are considered omnivores. It means they eat both plants such as algae and animals. Also in spite its name hermit that means choose to live alone, hermit crabs are deemed social and usually lives in a group.
Land crabs require dry land to stay alive and will pass away if they are in the water for a longer period. They necessitate some water to keep their body and lungs wet. The oceanic crab can not be taken out of the water for a longer period or they will die. Land crabs are naturally nocturnal as it is too hot for them to be out during day time.
Both types of hermit crabs take their houses around on their back so it is easier to go around and get food. If the weather conditions are not suitable, they return inside their shell. There are an interesting fact that it is very tough to tell about the male and female and they live in colonies over 100 or more.