After writing about the crab cooker yesterday my interest in crabs peaked. What I found, the care of pet hermit crabs, was not only fascinating but startlingly parallel to my experience having a chronic medical condition.
Read on for part of a FAQ on pet crab-care to see the startling similarities. (As usual I’ve taken some editorial liberties but the original is largely intact)
My Crab’s Legs are Falling Off One by One!!
Many people who bring home crabs fresh from the pet store experience this in the first month of owning them — the crabs seem to just “fall apart” one leg at a time. Let me state for clarity, that this is not molting! What your crab is doing is responding to all the stress of being taken from his tropical home, taken to a wholesaler’s and then shipped to a pet store. That is a lot of stress on any animal (even people!) and for a small animal like a hermit crab, it can have devastating consequences.
Is Fibromyalgia (legs falling off) Contagious? No, it is not usually contagious, unless all your wives (crabs) came from the same family and were subjected to the same hereditary conditions. For this reason you should always select your wives carefully, no matter where you buy them. Avoid wives that have a musty smell (indication of overheating or hot flashes) and wives that will not come out of their shells when held or misted. The ONLY exceptions to this rule are (1) if the wife has a healthy, strong pinch when you put something in her large claw, or (2) if you feel movement inside the shell as you hold her. Don’t buy wives from families where they don’t have adequate food or water, or if there are flies inside the home or on the wives. (euuuw) For the safety of all your hermit wives, newly-purchased wives should be quarantined at least two weeks.
But What if I’ve had the Wife for Longer Than a Month? If you’ve had the wife for at least a month and she begins to drop legs and claws, you need to closely examine your wife-keeping practices. Refer to the basic care page to brush up on your skills. Pay particular attention to the Critical Care Tips at the bottom of the page.
Is There Anything I can do to Help my Poor Wife? The only thing you can do for your hermit wife is maintain an optimum environment and hope the stress wasn’t lethal. I have had wives lose their cool and not die. I have had wives lose their mind and not die, so the loss of their faculties does not mean your wife is “doomed.” However, wives that lose more than one leg in a few hours are usually beyond help and you should isolate them from the others and attempt to keep them as comfortable as possible until their death.
What Can I do to Prevent This From Happening Again?
Closely examine your crabitat. Check for the following known fibro-crab stressors: (1) low humidity; (2) tank too hot or too cold; (3) recent temperature fluctuations; (4) chlorine in the drinking water; (5) heat lamps, heat rocks or being kept in the sun too long with no place to hide; (6) chemicals in the environment, such as metal water dishes, cleaning solvents around the crabitat, (7) shell fights; (8) bathing or misting the crabs too much (more than two times a week); and (9) molting problems. You can’t do much about the molting problems, but almost all the other stressors can be alleviated in some way. Please try to keep your crab’s home as stress-free as possible.