A Story of Hermit Crab Intelligence

There have been many speculations regarding land hermit crab intelligence, but no one person can decide whether land hermit crabs are smart animals or not so smart animals.

There is one theory that I support which says that hermit crabs may not have direct intelligence, but they act with instinct. This may appear to the human as intelligence, but underneath it is actually the crab acting upon an instinct to survive or to eat.

There are three basic instincts that go through an animal's body. The instinct to get nutrition (to eat and drink), the instinct to reproduce, and the instinct to survive. Hermit crabs have these all successfully managed because they are scavengers and exist in large colonies. They have a shell to help them survive.

This story that shows a bit of land hermit crab intelligence happened to one of my very own crabs, a Fenwick Island micro, Sayang. I found Sayang's shell in the water dish and began to think, "What could be wrong?"

Fortunately, I found Sayang's nude body underneath a plastic plant. I quickly brought her out and got her to reshell. I was very thankful for that.

I quickly placed her back in the tank and she went along her way, never to drop the shell again. At least she wasn't stressed. After this episode, I began to ponder what happened.

The only story that I can think of is a very interesting story indeed. Normally, I have fish nets going into the water dishes to help the micros out if they need to, but sometimes a larger crab will knock them out of the way.

In this case, the rope was not in the water and the crab may have fallen in. Sayang could not get out of the dish, so she had to drop her shell and use it to climb out of the water to prevent drowning. Is this intelligence or instinct?

Either way, she managed to save herself. I thought this may be an interesting story to share with all of the other hermit crabbers.


cecilia said...

i'm cecilia and i'm from sweden. I'm having an hard time getting subscribed to the hermit crab association...don't know why really...and i have a question which is tormenting me from days. my hermit crab kronos died because of a temperature drop (not well plugged in heating carpet) and now i'm much worried about my new pet hermes. he is an indonesian and he's the hell of a guy. he already changed shell like 3 times and he always go around, climb and eat. the temperature goes from 68 to 70 degrees farenheit and according to all the sites he would be already or on his way to die. i would also buy a heating ceramic lamp but since he's active is it necessary?
sorry to write this on your blog but i'm kinda desperate and i don't know how to get an answer!


Kilimanjaro said...

Hello, Cecilia.

I hope you will get this comment. I am not sure why you are having trouble getting into the HCA, but I hope you will eventually. Look out for me there, my username is Kilimanjaro. :)

As for your hermit crab, 68-70 degrees Fahrenheit is a little on the cold side. You may want to boost the heat up to the 80 degree range to have a healthier crab.

Good luck on your crabbing ventures!

(By the way, your English is great!)


Anonymous said...

Want to share my story of one of my Hermit Crabs, I have several now for the past 9 years. I keep them outside in a duplex setting.
Thought one of my crabs had died, so I buried him quiet away in the backyard far from the house. At least a month went by,recently I went in the back to drink my coffee and opening my sliding door I noticed something on the floor just outside the door. It was the Hermit Crab that I buried a month ago!! How did he find his way home to the front of my door without ever being let out of his duplex? He was short of knocking on the door to say "let me in". Please if possible let me know if this is possible? Thank you. Lisa I.

Patricia McNerney said...

My children had pet hermit crabs when they were growing up. One of them, James, clearly knew when people were strangers and was afraid of them. In other words, he recognized human faces. (remembering faces is something I myself am not very good at!).I see now that some fish can also do this - I think we have a lot to find out about the other denizens of this world, often unappreciating them.

Unknown said...

Hi I'm 12 and I've had two hermit crabs.One died after a year and a couple months and the one I have now is a year and a couple months.I don't have very much of a "big" cage for them.I'm trying to get an aquarium for them.I don't have a heater or anything.Should I get one?