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islandlovin
(@islandlovin)
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We have very large hermit crabs on our hill at night time - anyone else been seeing them? How do they live so far away from the water? Where do they find new shells all the way up the mountain on the North Side? I have seen them a few times this week - are they migrating??

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Topic starter Posted : June 19, 2012 3:29 am
OldTart
(@the-oldtart)
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What you're seeing aren't marine hermit crabs but the terrestrial variety, a/k/a land crabs. They're nocturnal (if you have a wooden porch they clatter around at night unmercifully), hide away in holes in the ground during the day and can get VERY big. Once a shell gets too small it's discarded and another smaller crab makes it his home. They make good eating and I've heard they make good pets too!

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Posted : June 19, 2012 10:32 am
SunnyCaribe
(@SunnyCaribe)
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Our Hermit crabs are terrestrial, although they need to reproduce in salt water (don't knock it till you've tried it). They don't live in holes--those are the land crabs (Gecarcinus ruricola), which do make good eating if properly prepared (I'm told). I don't know of anyone eating Hermit crabs, but they are prized as bait.

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Posted : June 19, 2012 11:59 am
Alana33
(@alana33)
Expert

Hermit crabs make an annual migration to the shore to mate and exchange shells. You can see hundreds of them as they attempt to cross the roads, poor things. I have used them for bait for hand line fishing but never eaten one.

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Posted : June 19, 2012 12:04 pm
OldTart
(@the-oldtart)
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Either I'm confused or you are. *-) There are marine and terrestrial hermit crabs. Terrestrial means "earth", ergo the hermit crabs which live here outside the water are land crabs. They're used as both fishing bait and as food once carefully "purged" in captivity.

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Posted : June 19, 2012 12:06 pm
sherri
(@sherri)
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Not an uncommon sight at all! Used to have a Bunny and they used to hang out under the cage for food! 🙂 A friend of mine used to get shells for the beach, bring them home and paint them with nail polish and then put them out for the crabs. It was fun for her to see them walking around her yard with a new decorated home!

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Posted : June 19, 2012 12:17 pm
SunnyCaribe
(@SunnyCaribe)
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OT, yes the hermit crabs we have are land hermit crabs, referred to almost everywhere else as land crabs. Here, however, we call G. ruricola 'land crabs'. They live in holes specifically because they don't carry scavenged shells around for sun protection. Making matters worse the G ruricola is often called 'soldier crab' here, which name elsewhere applies to the hermit crab.

This one is the hermit crab we have:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coenobita

This one is the land crab as we call it:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gecarcinus_ruricola

Hope this helps.

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Posted : June 19, 2012 1:08 pm
OldTart
(@the-oldtart)
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The coenobita you linked looks nothing like the hermit crabs I'm used to seeing here whose legs are much darker in color - plus it's not noted as being anywhere in the Caribbean but mostly in the Indo-Pacific. Same genus I'm sure.

The land crabs pictured I'm not very familiar with at all. My interest in the hermit crabs was inspired years ago by a Frenchie friend who went out at night and caught them for eating and for bait and referred to them as "land crabs". They're good-tasting and he'd always throw the empty shells back in the bush for the next temporary residents! During the years I was in Smith Bay on STT I didn't see so many but those I did see were really huge!

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Posted : June 19, 2012 2:11 pm
stxem
(@stx-em)
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The coenobita you linked looks nothing like the hermit crabs I'm used to seeing here whose legs are much darker in color - plus it's not noted as being anywhere in the Caribbean but mostly in the Indo-Pacific. Same genus I'm sure.

Our hermit crabs that live on land are Coenobita clypeatus. There are also several species of marine hermit crabs that live underwater.

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Posted : June 19, 2012 3:10 pm
Jamison
(@Jamison)
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Such little adventurers the hermit crab. Love those critters.

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Posted : June 19, 2012 3:27 pm
Ronnie
(@ronnie)
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I know we call them soldier crabs, never heard them referred to as land crab. A land crab that we eat is the ones you see that live in holes. They are caught then purged on corn meal to get the sand out of them before eating.

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Posted : June 20, 2012 10:24 am
TamiP
(@TamiP)
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You guys are making me hungry! How long do you purge them Ronnie?

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Posted : June 20, 2012 1:33 pm
BeachcomberStt
(@BeachcomberStt)
Trusted Member

I would like to find the crab that is used as a pet for a friend's kid that is it in a shell. I think that is what they said.
I haven't been able to find one as of yet. Just the ones that dig deep holes near the waters edge with the big black eyes.

What beach is the best to find this type of crab to be used as a pet on Stt?
Does the Humane Society have them?

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Posted : June 20, 2012 3:46 pm
OldTart
(@the-oldtart)
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As I recall the purging takes about a week and consists of feeding them oatmeal and coffee grounds but Ronnie will correct!

As far as keeping them as pets, those are the ones you won't find on the beaches but on land. I'd love to be a fly on the wall if you call the Humane Society and ask them if they have an Adopt-A-Hermit Crab program. Maybe they have packaged shells in various sizes to be used as needed once the current one is outgrown ... 😀

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Posted : June 20, 2012 3:53 pm
BeachcomberStt
(@BeachcomberStt)
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As I recall the purging takes about a week and consists of feeding them oatmeal and coffee grounds but Ronnie will correct!

As far as keeping them as pets, those are the ones you won't find on the beaches but on land. I'd love to be a fly on the wall if you call the Humane Society and ask them if they have an Adopt-A-Hermit Crab program. Maybe they have packaged shells in various sizes to be used as needed once the current one is outgrown ... 😀

I know the Humane Society question was a funny question, but I thought I read in the past that someone was looking for one on Stx and another poster told them to go to or call their Humane Society on Stx *-) and they were not joking.

Ok then, were can I find one on island - point me in the right direction, please. Or does someone have an extra one that they are not attached to and is willing to give one to my friend's kid? Thank you! 🙂

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Posted : June 20, 2012 6:06 pm
maryb
(@maryb)
Advanced Member

The hermit crabs here on Caribbean Hermit Crabs Hermit crabs
We have found seven of them and keep them as pets since we arent allowed dogs/cats at our condo. We have found them mainly at the beach but our first 3 were caught miles away. The are mainly nocturnal so thats the best time to look for them.

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Posted : June 20, 2012 6:38 pm
OldTart
(@the-oldtart)
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Well, the OP says she's on the "North side" which would indicate STT so throw him/her a PM and arrange to go pick one up! I must have missed that earlier thread about the poster suggesting calling the HS but that's a hoot. A quick google will give you tons of information about keeping one as a pet. It seems they're quite entertaining in a crabby sort of way.

I rescued a tiny baby St Thomian rat from one of the cats over four years ago, bottle fed her and bought her a fantastic condo cage to live in. A long and entertaining story but it's amazing how some critters one comes across and formerly viewed negatively completely change one's perception of them once you get to know them. Alas, "Miss Ratatouille" has overreached her lifespan and, all of a sudden, has faded fast in the past week and her days are obviously numbered . Oh well. She's not in any distress but will I'm sure go peacefully in the next few days. Funny how you get so attached to them!

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Posted : June 20, 2012 6:39 pm
swans
(@swans)
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I rescued a tiny baby St Thomian rat from one of the cats over four years ago, bottle fed her and bought her a fantastic condo cage to live in. A long and entertaining story but it's amazing how some critters one comes across and formerly viewed negatively completely change one's perception of them once you get to know them. Alas, "Miss Ratatouille" has overreached her lifespan and, all of a sudden, has faded fast in the past week and her days are obviously numbered . Oh well. She's not in any distress but will I'm sure go peacefully in the next few days. Funny how you get so attached to them!

I'm sorry to hear that Ms. Ratatouille's condition (possible stroke) has deteriorated as I was hoping she would turn around in time: (If you gently pinch her toes on her hind legs and she does not flex the legs, then she is, in fact, paralyzed) Regardless, it is sad..

You gave her a great life, OT; you have a generous and warm heart, our friend.
Swan

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Posted : June 20, 2012 7:28 pm
Boomerang
(@Boomerang)
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In my other life my son had a hermit crab we got from a petshop. It clamped onto his finger, he screamed bloody murder just as I answered the door to a Greenpeace volunteer. Karma, I knew better than to have "pet" out of it's element.

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Posted : June 20, 2012 7:34 pm
OldTart
(@the-oldtart)
Expert

I rescued a tiny baby St Thomian rat from one of the cats over four years ago, bottle fed her and bought her a fantastic condo cage to live in. A long and entertaining story but it's amazing how some critters one comes across and formerly viewed negatively completely change one's perception of them once you get to know them. Alas, "Miss Ratatouille" has overreached her lifespan and, all of a sudden, has faded fast in the past week and her days are obviously numbered . Oh well. She's not in any distress but will I'm sure go peacefully in the next few days. Funny how you get so attached to them!

I'm sorry to hear that Ms. Ratatouille's condition (possible stroke) has deteriorated as I was hoping she would turn around in time: (If you gently pinch her toes on her hind legs and she does not flex the legs, then she is, in fact, paralyzed) Regardless, it is sad..

You gave her a great life, OT; you have a generous and warm heart, our friend.
Swan

The final RIP! For the past week I'd been moving around the water bottle close to her and she sucked from it as I held it in place and she took a little food and treats here and there but everything was obviously going down and just about every morning I expected to find her dead.

Last night she wanted nothing to do with hand-fed treats or water and shook her head quite vehemently as in "FU, leave me alone!" I set her cage outside on the porch table as the sun went down. She propped herself up on her front paws on the cage wire and sniffed the cool breeze through her little nostrils. Her previously bright little eyes were half closed and dim. When I found her dead very early this morning she was curled up as if sleeping.

I have a spot to bury her in. It's just not right to throw even "just a rat" out. In the meantime she's in my freezer. Oh Lord!

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Posted : June 22, 2012 7:58 pm
swans
(@swans)
Trusted Member

OT,

I feel that all creatures great and small sense the kindness and compassion of an individual who lends them a helping hand without judgement as to their species, as you unselfishly reached out to help Ms.R. You are a unique individual.

Please share Ms. R's story when you write of your experiences living in the USVI.

Swan

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Posted : June 23, 2012 12:07 am
dougtamjj
(@dougtamjj)
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Sorry for your loss Tart. RIP Ms. Ratatouille.

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Posted : June 24, 2012 1:27 am
torresteach
(@torresteach)
Advanced Member

I love this idea with the Shells

Torresteach

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Posted : June 24, 2012 11:36 am
maryb
(@maryb)
Advanced Member

Old Tart,

I am so sorry for your loss. Ms. R was very lucky to have such a wonderful, caring, compassionate friend as you. From what I understand about pet rats, their life span is usually 2-3 years, the fact that she lived past 4 is a testament to your caring for her.

I too, had my perconceived rat notions turned around while rat sitting for a friend many years ago. They are playful, social creatures that make wonderful pets and companions.

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Posted : June 24, 2012 12:00 pm
TamiP
(@TamiP)
Advanced Member

Do land crabs have a similar taste to sea crabs or is the salty taste missing?

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Posted : June 24, 2012 1:54 pm
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