One night we were camping at a carpark near the beach and as the sun set and everything went quiet a slight rustling sound could be heard. At first it seemed to come from one place and as time went on it sounded like it was all around us.
At first we assumed it was some animal in the bushes but when the sound spread it intrigued us and we went looking. What we found were hundreds and even thousands of little hermit crabs all around us. Looking for food, moving to a new spot while the sun was down. The sheer number of them moving through the leaves made a rustling sound that was easy to hear.
Hermit crabs aren't a single species, rather they are a large selection of crustaceans who inhabit mollusc shells. In the last few decades they have become popular pets due to their small size, ease to keep and little attention required. They are however cool little creatures that still need to be looked after appropriately if kept as pets.
These little guys come in all shapes and sizes from tiny little crabs to quite large, as they grow they drop their shells and find larger, more suitable homes to protect themselves. If they can't find a suitable home they will slowly grow too large for their current shell and become exposed to predators.
If you touch them, shine a light on them in the dark or take steps near them they will curl up inside the shell for protection. As they feel the threat has passed they will slowly come back out of their shell and continue their journey.
We found individual crabs moving around in the thousands as well as areas where they appeared to be grouping together, whether that was because of resources or in some cases the geography. One small section where the rocks funneled the water and, evidently the hermit crabs into a small valley they were up to 4 deep, climbing over each other.
We found a pear someone had thrown out and it was completely covered in crabs all getting some food. Hermit crabs are scavengers and will eat pretty much anything they can get their little mouths on. We even found one chewing away at a bone. We had to take great care walking at night on the beach not to stand on them.
Fascinating little creatures and if anyone has a good way of getting videos on hive let me know as I got some cool footage of one coming out of his shell at the beach, have included some stills from the footage above.
Remember no matter what you keep as a pet no matter how simple they may seem, they still deserve to be looked after and cared for. The easier the pet the easier it seems to neglect.