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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