Making Tracks

Striped Hermit Crab Clibanarius vittatus

This hermit, like the name implies, has white stripes running longitudinally down its brown legs and claws. It is able to survive outside of water longer than other hermit species here in South Carolina. This fellow was trekking back to the water after being stranded by a receding tide. 

Hermit crabs are scavengers, feeding on decaying plant and animal material, as well as occasionally snacking on bivalves. They have very small or no back legs and their abdomen is reduced and coiled, looking more worm-like than crab-like. 

They are territorial and will constantly fight over shells. While they grow, they must constantly seek out larger shells, since their exoskeleton provides no protection.  As research suggests, having a larger shell is better for females and egg production, for all individuals to avoid predation, and globular shells are easier to move around with than longer shells.

Many species of hermits are found within the pet trade, including the land hermits from Brazil. Striped hermits, requiring an aquatic habitat, are often used for salt water aquariums as cleaners.