How to train a crab

laelene Post in how to guides, lifestyle glimpses, photo blog,Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
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I’ve been playing with a variety of crabs of late and it’s fascinating. They’re rather smart creatures and I can almost swear they understand me. I’ve definitely stared into the eyes of some and felt like they could communicate with me. Maybe that’s just how their eyes look, but if you’ve ever tried to stare down a crab you might know what I mean. Sometimes their cunning is shocking. I’ve had them figure out how to climb up and out of cups, planning their escape. I’ve had them (somewhat) calmly crawl on me and learn that I’ll keep picking them up every time they try to leave. I’ve even had them working in teams to try to reach higher out of their temporary home in my cup.

tower of hermit crabs climbing on top of each other

The leaning tower of crabs. Smaller ones love to hitch a ride on larger ones!

clump of hermit crabs crawling on each other climbing up side of paper cup

Hitching a ride or using teamwork to escape?

line of hermit crabs crawling up side of paper cup

One by one, they learn from each other and crawl out.

It all started with some hermit crabs. It was the first day I got to go to the beach by the hotel (Turtle Bay Resort). I went wandering and eventually found a way to get to the beach I’d seen from the breakfast table. At first it was just tons and tons of snails on the rocks. I picked a bunch and was just enjoying the day playing around in the water with them when I noticed much faster movement. It was a hermit crab scuttling by! Once I knew what to look for, it was game over. I spotted so many that I had caught at least 30-something and there was no room in my cup. So I started to take pictures and release them. After all, what I really want are some close-up images of these cool creatures.

hermit crab staring at person holding it in fingers

If you just hold them, they’ll come out and look at you.

The next day, I went to the other side of the resort to check out what else I could find. It turned out to be a gold mine for other crabs. The land ones move far too fast to ever be caught, but the water ones have a tendency to hide and blend with the rocks. Since these rock formations have plenty of pools, it provided an easy microcosm to focus on. I was determined to get a “normal” crab (the kind that walks side to side). I succeeded with that eventually and got a crab that was almost too big for my cup! Now my goal is to get one of those burrowing crabs, which are a lot harder since they’ve got plenty of open beach to run across and even more sand they can dig below to escape.

crab hiding against rock and blending in

The crabs blend in quite well with the rocks!

crab hiding against rock and person pointing finger near it

I see yoooou.

ghost crab in hawaii sitting at entrance of tunnel in sand

My next challenge awaits.

So, how to train a crab:

1. Figure out where they hang out and go sit/squat nearby.

2. Stay still and watch for a bit. Look for an area they’re hiding where it’s enclosed enough for you to chase it.

3. Choose one that isn’t too large (no bigger than your pinky is probably best) and use a clear cup to get close to it. If we’re talking hermit crabs then just pick them up.

4. It takes a bit of back and forth to trick them into running into the cup area or falling into it as they scurry around. Just be careful and use one hand to guide them towards the cup.

5. Once caught, make sure you provide a decently comfortable environment, whether it’s just having enough sea water and not making it too warm or you need some rocks so the crab can sit out of the water too.

6. Keep it in the cup for awhile. Let it calm down and get used to this strange new environment.

7. After the crab is no longer desperately attempting to crawl out of the cup, you can stick your hand in and see if it’ll let you brush it. Move your finger around to guide it where you want to (that’s how I taught a crab that it actually could climb up the cup – of course then it wouldn’t stop climbing up the wall after that).

8. Before you know it, the crab will be totally fine with you touching it and might even crawl around on you! Beware, it’s definitely trying to escape though. If you’re good you’ll get some moments of peace where you can actually stare into its eyes, make that eye contact, and ponder its thoughts.

baby crab sitting on hand with ocean in background

Spending some quality time with my baby pet.

holding crab on hand smiling at it

Another one of my trainees, just chillin’ on my hand.

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