Dumb Shit I Do Kids Pets

Death in the Family

November 1, 2010
Caribbean hermit crab (coenobita clypeatus), dead hermit crabs, how to kill your hermit crabs

This is what they look like when they are alive

And it’s all my fault.

I killed the hermit crabs. At least I think I did. It’s hard to tell since they don’t do anything. Hermit crabs aren’t like the cat or the dog. If you forget to feed or water then they make noise, they drink out of the toilet, they throw their bowl around until someone notices and feeds them. I think I subconsciously hated the crabs because every time I gave them water or food they made such a mess I had to clean out the whole cage and that sucks to pick up little tiny poops. They had no respect for their food dish and they didn’t understand that when they moved their little wet sponge out of the dish it just drained into the sand which I was told was a bad thing by the little man at the kiosk in the Mall of America who sold them to us.

It was Friday morning, I had just gotten the kids off to school when I was picking up the kitchen. The hermit crabs lived on top of the vent hood over the stove because the cat couldn’t get up there and there was a heat vent to keep them warm. I noticed that one of them had crawled out from the little coconut shell and was upside down. I didn’t think much of the fact that he was upside down because maybe he wanted to lie on his back. Since I noticed them I took the cage down to give them some water and food.

I decided to flip the little guy over and that’s when he fell out of his shell!

They don’t do that. They hang on to their shell with their back feet something fierce, and he wasn’t moving, he just sat there all limp like. So I checked the other one and noticed he smelled like dead fish that the dog rolls in sometimes when we are at the lake.

dead hermit crabs

This is what they look like when they are dead

Oh the carnage!

It was only 9am, the kids wouldn’t be home until 3:30pm. More importantly the little one wouldn’t be home til that time, the big one could care less even though technically one of them was his. His sister had glommed on to his a day after they came home from the mall.

I couldn’t leave them there, on the kitchen counter, all day. I just couldn’t bare to look at them all dead. The guilt was killing me. I kept reminding myself that they were just bugs but they were more than that. They were members of our family, they had names, even if no one could remember what they were.

I texted my son:

Both hermit crabs are dead. I can’t bare to look at them and want to throw them away. Do I have to wait for Maddie to get home?

His response:

No shes prolly forgot about em its your call, did you get my batteries?

I couldn’t just throw them out but I didn’t know how I was going to explain this to my daughter. This wasn’t just one death, this was a massacre, and worse there was a third one that had died months ago. Maddie was at her dad’s that weekend and I didn’t want to keep a dead hermit crab for two days so I just put it in the trash. She hadn’t noticed that there were only two but she would now for sure. How was I going to explain that?

The worst part about all of this is that while I am feeling horrible for being responsible for their deaths I was also composing this blog post in my head.

I left them on the kitchen counter. I was going to have to fess up that one had died months ago, hell for all I know these two had been dead since the first one died, and I didn’t tell her. I avoided the kitchen.

I was hoping she wouldn’t want to look too closely at them. Hermit crabs smell really bad when dead and she isn’t keen on things that smell icky, or dead for that matter. If she didn’t get too close she might not notice that there were two instead of three and I wouldn’t have to explain my actions regarding the first dead hermit crab.

Actually it was the second hermit crab that died. The first one died last Christmas, we noticed it was dead when we got our Christmas tree with her dad (ex#2). She wanted to show them to him and when she picked it up his legs fell off. Hermit crabs are not for the faint of heart. She was nonplussed about it and suggested we throw it in the trash at that time. I was hoping for the same reaction.

Which is exactly what I got, at first.

I told her about the deaths, let her quickly glance inside the cage and then I took the whole cage outside to the trash container in the ally. I placed them gently in there and then shut the lid. My neighbor was out back doing some yard work so I mentioned the deaths to him.

I went inside and started preparing dinner. 15 minutes later I realized I had not taken a picture of the dead hermit crabs!

Back outside to the garbage I go. My neighbor, who is still outside working on his yard, sees me rummaging through the trash and starts laughing because he knows exactly what I am doing.

“Forgot to take pictures for your blog?”

Maddie wants to get new hermit crabs, of course she does. There is no way in hell I am going through this again. I’ll get a puppy or another cat to pacify her, they might cause more heartache when they finally pass but at least if they aren’t getting food or water they will tell me and they probably won’t lose a leg when they do die.

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  • Reply moooooog35 November 1, 2010 at 3:57 pm


    Now I want seafood.

    • Reply redheadranting November 2, 2010 at 2:28 pm

      I was thinking the same thing. Something about crab legs just sounds so good right now.

  • Reply Dwmatty November 1, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    Been there, experienced that. We did the hermit crab thing a few times over. It always ends up the same way. There just is no explanation. One day they’re fine. The next day they’re toast.

    • Reply redheadranting November 2, 2010 at 3:12 pm

      It’s a life lesson really. Hopefully we all learned something from this experience.

  • Reply Lolas Diner November 1, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    Oh nooo. See that’s why I never got my kids tiny pets like that. It was bad enough when we had to put Max and Sophie down when they became old and sick, but at least they had many, many years with them.

    Check out my Halloween costume: http://lolasdiner.blogspot.com/2010/10/happy-halloween.html

    • Reply redheadranting November 2, 2010 at 3:13 pm

      Your costume kills me!

      Yes furry pets that are bigger than your hand last longer. I don’t recommend gerbils or hamsters, we tried those when my son was young. Heartache all around.

  • Reply Linda Register November 1, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    I am sorry for your loss. It does make good blog fodder, though. Especially getting caught digging through the trash to get pictures of the bodies. CSI will be right out.

    I had a hermit crab once. I named him Oscar. I found a pretty shell at the beach, brought it home, washed it up with soap and hot water and put it on the window sill to dry. Imagine my surprise when my shell was walking across the window sill. Oscar didn’t live long, though, outside his element, plus we didn’t know we could get crab food, and someone told us to feed him cornmeal. I think they got that confused with cleaning clams before you steam them.

    • Reply redheadranting November 2, 2010 at 3:11 pm

      So you named the shell Oscar not knowing there was a crab inside? He probably didn’t like the soap or hot water all that much either. They eat anything, bananas, peanut butter, spoiled meat. you don’t have to buy them food at a pet store.

      • Reply Linda Register November 2, 2010 at 5:50 pm

        The name actually came after finding the shell was alive. I suspect he didn’t care for the bath all that much.

  • Reply Boom Boom Larew November 1, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    I’m just impressed that you noticed that quickly! If they were at my house, they probably would have shriveled into dust before I noticed. But once I did, I would have absolutely, positively photographed them with their little legs sticking up in the air!

    • Reply redheadranting November 2, 2010 at 3:09 pm

      Can you imagine if they were people or say my dog? Wait, don’t call 9-11 yet, I have to find the camera. Might not actually do it but I bet there are those of us who think about it.

  • Reply 00dozo November 1, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    I don’t suppose that vendor told you that the crabs need larger shells as they grow? Either way, not a good ‘pet’ choice. Might I suggest a rock?

    Ha, ha! But I can’t believe you retrieved them from the trash for a photo-op!

  • Reply Themother November 1, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    Never trust a pet that lives in a glass container.

  • Reply Pricilla November 1, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    “did you get my batteries”
    So much for the sad death of the beloved hermit crabs.
    I love it

    • Reply redheadranting November 2, 2010 at 3:08 pm

      Like I said, they could have been dead for months with how much everyone paid them attention.

  • Reply Jayne November 1, 2010 at 8:32 pm

    Sniff… Did they have names?

  • Reply Jaffer November 1, 2010 at 8:33 pm

    ‘Tsk’ ‘Tsk’ – When one died, the other died of depression – despite their names they are social and do do live in large colonies.

    Oh well, now you know – It had to happen someday. Never again !

    • Reply redheadranting November 2, 2010 at 3:06 pm

      If they had died at separate times I would have gotten another one, I am well aware that they are social little beings but this seemed to be a murder/ suicide or something because they were both dead.

  • Reply meleahrebeccah November 1, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    You are so funny for going back outside to the trashcan just to take a photo of the dead hermit crabs for this blog post! HA!

    • Reply redheadranting November 2, 2010 at 3:05 pm

      I’m pretty sure I have done worse, as has every blogger on here. What won’t we do for the picture?

  • Reply Anonymous November 1, 2010 at 9:59 pm

    Maybe you can clear something up for me. When a crab crawls out of it’s shell is it an exhibitionist or just homeless? I had crabs once…

  • Reply Amyblam November 1, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    This made me laugh so hard. I too am a pet murderer. The tradition started with my dad, he let a hermit crab die “accidentally” after It bit me as a small child. Personally, I have had fish commit suicide, one died by flinging himself up into the aquarium light and self frying. I murdered two of my daugters. They would play dead. Float for weeks without movement. When I went to toss them, they started moving. By then it was too late, so I dumped their flip flopping bodies in the trash. We haven’t had fish since then.

    • Reply cardiogirl November 2, 2010 at 11:12 am

      Now there’s a novel just waiting to emerge from Stephen King’s mind: “The Pet Murderer.” Which, of course, would be the sequel to “The Pet Cemetery.”

    • Reply redheadranting November 2, 2010 at 3:04 pm

      I’m a little concerned about this:

      “I murdered two of my daugters.”

      I’m hoping there is an apostrophe in there somewhere.

  • Reply Sparkle November 1, 2010 at 11:13 pm

    My human was thinking of getting me hermit crabs (although I don’t think they would be as fun as Bird TV), but has hesitated just because she does not want the guilty feeling if they die. Hermit crabs can live as much as 15 years or more, so anything less would brand her as a terrible crab caretaker. Plus she hates cleaning up dead things.

    • Reply redheadranting November 2, 2010 at 3:03 pm

      Is your human getting them for you to watch or to eat? Or is she thinking of killing two birds with one stone? I was told they could live a long time too which is kinda sad if you think about it, at least in captivity but even on a beach it’s a long time to walk on the sand and up a tree, over and over again.

  • Reply Sparkle November 1, 2010 at 11:16 pm

    BTW, those mall kiosks are pretty much the equivalent of puppy mills – hermit crab mills, if you will – so yours probably wouldn’t have lived to be 15 anyhow. So don’t take my longevity estimate to heart.

    • Reply redheadranting November 2, 2010 at 3:01 pm

      I read this comment earlier and it has been with me all day. I feel horrible that I contributed to the puppy mill of hermit crabs.

  • Reply Frogsinmyformula November 2, 2010 at 1:08 am

    Why I heart you: The worst part about all of this is that while I am feeling horrible for being responsible for their deaths I was also composing this blog post in my head.

    • Reply redheadranting November 2, 2010 at 3:00 pm

      It’s under my skin, what can I say. Even worse, I was thinking as all this was playing out was “Yay, I got my mojo back finally, I have something worthy to write about” too bad some poor little creatures had to lose their life for it. They are just bugs, Jen, just bugs….

  • Reply babs (beetle) November 2, 2010 at 1:31 am

    **while I am feeling horrible for being responsible for their deaths I was also composing this blog post in my head.** What’s a blogger supposed to be thinking about then?

    Hermit crabs are very weird pets in the first place. They’re probably doomed to die of neglect from the day of their purchase.

    • Reply redheadranting November 2, 2010 at 2:59 pm

      I’m pretty sure once they leave the Caribbean they are doomed, especially when they are brought up here in the northern part of the world.

  • Reply Lin November 2, 2010 at 2:21 am

    Oh, we had a couple of those a long time ago. And like yours, it’s leg fell off when I turned it over to see if it was dead. Yep. It was. Ick!!!

    Dead hermit crabs have NOTHING on the dead frogs I find in my skimmer after a long winter. EWwwwww. Gag.

    • Reply redheadranting November 2, 2010 at 2:58 pm

      EWWWWWW!!!!!! dead frogs from being dead a whole winter! Yuck, you win!

  • Reply cardiogirl November 2, 2010 at 10:38 am

    I absolutely *love* your son’s reply.

    No. Now onto the important stuff — did you get my batteries?

  • Reply Anonymous November 2, 2010 at 8:48 pm

    Rest in peace, little crabbies. Maybe you can find my Sea Monkeys at the Rainbow Bridge for sea creatures.

  • Reply Crabbyjo November 2, 2010 at 10:48 pm

    Don’t get more hermit crabs. They need humidity, it sounds like you cooked em with dry air. 🙁 Those mall kiosks are lousy for giving good information – water in the sand is fine – if it’s not that horrible colored sand that it looks like they sold you. Nope, if you ever do know someone who gets hermit crabs, tell them to look up info on line, at http://www.hermitcrabparadise.com or http://www.crabstreetjournal.com, you have no idea how complicated it can be to keep them alive! Humidity, temperature control, food, substrate, humidity, oh did I mention, humidity? lol it’s gotta be between 65 and 80% humidity! I’m so sorry your little crabs died, and that the mall kiosk person didn’t know enough to tell you how to keep them alive. Good luck, and get a hamster! 🙂 They only live 2 years though.

  • Reply Katherine Murray November 3, 2010 at 12:37 am

    Oh man! That stinks – literally! Yes, hermit crabs stink when they are dead! The sad thing is when they molt some ppl think they are dead and throw them in the trash. (Can you tell we have had bunches of hermit crabs?) Now I am happy to say I am crab free. Yea, I said it.

  • Reply Mikewj November 3, 2010 at 6:34 am

    I’m having a hard time mourning your loss. Still, I’m sorry for your loss because I know I should be, and I will pretend to be. *tears*

  • Reply Margaret (nannygoats) November 4, 2010 at 2:36 am

    “…did you get my batteries?”

  • Reply Anonymous November 4, 2010 at 11:53 pm

    Oh no! If it makes you feel better, I had a beta fish that jumped out of his bowl and essentially committed suicide when I was in law school. I went to feed him one day and saw this dark, crunchy looking thing by the bowl. I thought it was a roach at first. Then I realized it was the beta fish all dried out.

    I’ve realized since then dogs and cats are just easier than fish.

    BTW I’ve given you the Versatile Blogger Award on my blog. Congrats!

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