www.whyville.net Nov 2, 2005 Weekly Issue



coolgale8
Guest Writer

Hermit Crabs

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Hey everyone, I just did a project in my science class on the hermit crab, so I though that you might like to find out about this very interesting creature! What was really fun was that I got to bring my pet hermit crab in to show my whole class; they really liked it!

Anyway enough about me, let's hear about my pet: the Hermit Crab!

What a Hermit Crab Looks Like

Hermit crabs are invertebrates, which means they do not have a backbone. Instead, they have an exoskeleton. They also can have many different colors. For example, they can be red, brown, or have purple dots or patterns. They also have ten jointed legs. The two front legs have large claws attached. The hermit crab has a flattened body, antennas and two eyes that are at the end of stalks. They have a soft, twisted lower body that stays hidden inside the shell for protection.

Where They are Found

There are land hermit crabs and there are crabs that live in the ocean. There are over 500 species of hermit crabs, found all over the world. Most live in the ocean and the rest live on land. Ocean hermit crabs are found off the coast of Europe, North and South America, and Australia. Land hermit crabs are found in warm places like the Carribean, Florida, and Australia.

The Life Cycle of a Hermit Crab

Female hermit crabs keep the eggs inside their shells until they are big enough. When they are ready, she releases them into the ocean. They hatch into a zoea larva. It grows by molting and then growing into a new exoskeleton. The claws and antennas develop during this time. After one more molt it becomes a hermit crab. Now it is ready to find a shell to keep it safe. Every time the hermit crab grows, its exoskeleton doesn't so it needs to molt and grow a new one. It then needs to find a new shell to live in that fits it. Some hermit crabs only live for 2-3 months but they can live up to 15-20 years.

What They Eat

Hermit crabs eat both animals and plants. For example mussels, small plankton and worms. They also are called scavengers because they will eat dead plants and animals.

How It Gets Its Food

It picks its food off the bottom on the ocean with its claws. If the food is too big, it rips it into pieces with its claws. They drink by dipping their claws into water and putting it into the gills or mouth.

Enemies

Its enemies are sea birds, fish, octopuses, crabs, and other hermit crabs.

How They Protect Themselves

The crab fights off other crabs with its claws, which are also known as chelipeds. Their main defense is to crawl back into their shell and they use their claws to block the entrance.

Habitat and Weather

Land crabs need dry land to survive and will die if they are in the water too long. They need some water to keep their body and lungs moist. The ocean crab can't be taken out of the water too long or it will die. Land crabs are nocturnal because it is too hot for them to be out in the day time.

Both types of crabs carry their houses around on their back so it is much easier to move around and find food. If the weather is not suitable they go back inside their shell.

Some Interesting Facts

-Hermit crabs shed their exoskeleton. This is called molting.
-Hermit crabs are usually nocturnal. That means they move around more at night than during the day.
-Hermit crabs can live up to 20 years.
-It's very hard to tell if a hermit crab is a boy or a girl.
-Hermit crabs tuck themselves inside their shells to protect them from danger.
-Purple clawed hermit crabs weigh around one-forth of a pound.
-Hermit crabs have been heard making croaking sounds. Scientists are still trying to find out what they mean.
-The hermit crab's relatives are the spider and lobster.
-Hermit crabs live in colonies up to 100 or more.
-Using hermit crabs as pets is a growing hobby.
-Hermit crabs will eat the exoskeleton that they shed to get extra calcium to help grow a new one.

And that was all about the hermit crab. I reconmend this pet for most everyone, they're small, easy to take care of, and they don't pinch!

To find out more about keeping hermit crabs as pets look in any serch engine you want and type in, "How to take care of pet hermit crabs," or "Where to buy pet hermit crabs." I hope you get one!

This is coolgale8
. . . going to feed her hermit crab!

 

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