Hermit Crabs of Unusual Intelligence

Once upon a…actually, it all started last fall in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Peeking into the wire crab hotel at the surf shop, I saw neat rows of shells – some natural, some painted in solids or patterns – but few signs of actual hermit crabs living inside of them. Except for one.

A nickel-sized guy with a flower painted on his black shell hoofed it overtop the other sleepers. He was on a mission. I have no idea where he thought he was headed, but he had a destination in mind and nothing and no crab was getting in his way. That should have tipped me off that he would be trouble, but I packed him up and brought him home just the same.

Bumblebee (named after my favorite Transformer) has a plastic palm tree as decoration in his house. (Hermit crabs love interior design. They redecorate constantly.) Until recently, the palm tree was the tallest item there. Though they (he rooms with one other crab) try to climb up the plastic sides, it’s impossible. They’re not geckos.

So one afternoon a month or so ago, I stuck my head in to check on them, and voila, Bumblebee is perched on top of the palm tree! He just stared back at me nonchalantly while his roommate snoozed in a corner. Other than the sponge, which was kind of far away in my opinion, there was no obvious way to get up there. I scratched my head, took photos as evidence, and resolved to buy them something more secure to climb on.

Bumblebee on top of the world!

Not too long after that incident, I got them a piece of wood (natural cork to be precise). It’s tall enough that I had to set it at an angle, but I wasn’t really worried about it. Where could they possibly go?

One night I pulled off the top to refill their sponge, and no Bumblebee. I looked again because there was no way he wasn’t in there, right? After a moment of panic, I realized he was gripping the slats of the underside of the cover! He’d figured out he could climb the wood and latch on to the top and hang there upside down. (Again, his buddy is just buried in the sand, sleeping through it.)

I’m now convinced he’s going to figure out how to break out of his cage. I’m just waiting to find the top off and Bumblebee missing. (Periwinkle will, of course, sleep through it.) I don’t know how he’ll do it, but I’m ready. And I’m now pretty certain I not only picked the most active hermit crab in South Carolina, but also the smartest.

5 thoughts on “Hermit Crabs of Unusual Intelligence

  1. Mariana

    Omg!!! I thought my hermit crabs were the only ones that did that!!! I try to keep it wher they wont climb the tree, but both insist on climbing it. Both of the are top at the same tume!!!!

    1. amyandthepen Post author

      That’s awesome! None of my previous crabs did that so I was shocked when I found him up there. I guess he’s not alone in his love of perching on plastic palm trees!

  2. Devin

    Hello! Nice hermit crabs you have there. I don’t know if you will check this so late, but you should check out hermitcrabassociation.com
    You see, hermit crabs need very high humidity and substrate at least 6 inches high, which you don’t seem to have. Not trying to be angry, but I’m just trying to help the crabs (and you), because they can live for 20 years or more.



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