I may not be a hermit, but I am crabby.

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I don’t know what that means. Except that Ella came home from school a few weeks ago begging to take home a class hermit crab. Forever – not just for a weekend. And then she handed me the packet. The very, very thick packet of “So you’re adopting a hermit crab” information.

Hermit crabs need a tank. Hermit crabs need a tank heater, because they need a constant temperature of 75 degrees. They need the inside of the tank to have a consistent humidity of at least 70%. The initial hermit crab investment for the “free” hermit crab was estimated at $75. FOR A FREE HERMIT CRAB.We’d need bedding. Sand. Two water dishes. Hermit crab food pellets.

So I said, aw shucks honey, how about a fish? So we looked at Betta fish. Seems those can be a bit complicated, too.

But here’s the thing, you hear of people who spend the $75 on hermit crab gear and the crab is dead in a week. And then you hear of people who stick the crab in old Tupperware and it lives for years. Same with the fish. It’s a pet. It’s alive. You really can’t predict what’s going to happen. I know people with fancy fish tanks and the fish never seem to last more than a month. In high school, I won a goldfish at the fair and it lived for years in just a bowl. It was some kind of super industrial goldfish or something.

Yesterday the older girls started going to the humane society’s kid club. They look at the animals and play games, and sometimes they help make toys or boxes for the animals. It’s for the kids who aren’t old enough to help with the animals, but still want to do something. They had a great time, except that Natalie didn’t want to go in the dog room. There’s a giant black lab with a very loud bark. So I guess she decided to wait for everyone outside.

In any case, when it was time to go, I noticed a tank of two hermit crabs, $5. I asked at the desk if they came with their little tank habitat, or if it was just the crabs. Oh you can take the tank, they said. It’s pretty much a hermit crab starter kit. For $5. Complete with a little pretend coconut house. One of the volunteers happened to be another one of the teachers for Ella’s grade at her school, and they had also done a hermit crab study. She left me feeling like it didn’t HAVE to be that big of a deal. We just need to mist some water in the tank from time to time. She made it seem a little more doable. And aside from the “adoption fee,” we’d just need to buy a tank heater. Maybe. When it gets to be winter again.

I think it’d be a good project for the older girls. And really, Ella did just study them for weeks at school. She seems to know all about what they’d need. Plus, I really think we could use it to our advantage. “If you don’t get your room incredibly clean, the hermit crabs are going to have to move to someone else’s house.”

Do you have hermit crabs at your house? Any tips? I’ve heard they’re nocturnal, so they won’t be living in any of our very light sleeper bedrooms. Anyone want to place a bet on how long til Zoey tries to eat one?

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