Friday, October 7, 2011

Critters not common in gardens

Do you know of entities occupying bodies not their own? Some of you might think this is a case of possession, as in spirit possession. Please don't be alarmed or scared. We might not need exorcists here! 

This is a case of squatters in others' houses called hermit crabs. They are called such because they inhabit abandoned sea shells. They are crustaceans with ten feet (decapods) and have very soft and vulnerable body. So when disturbed they immediately retract inside the shell for protection. They also grow and increase in size, so growth allows them to abandon the old shell and find another bigger one. What is amazing about them is the drama during the time of transfer to bigger shells. When a new bigger shell is found, many of them gather around it or queue from biggest to smallest. As soon as the largest crab moves into the new shell, the 2nd largest moves into the newly vacated shell, making its old house available for the size next to it, and so on. It would be nice to document that event, how i wish to find them doing that, but i didn't.

Most of you will remember my post a few weeks ago about my trip to an island at the south of the country, where i saw a big Crinum lily. I found a lot of these creatures resting the whole day in leaf axils of that big white crinum lily. I disturbed their silence to take some photos. At high tide in the afternoon, they quickly crawled out to the water. I just don't know if it is the water or the absence of sunlight which triggered them to leave the sanctuary of the crinum lily. 

This is the white big Crinum lily

a lot of the hermit crabs with different shapes and types of shells converged inside the leaf axils

 They normally stopp when disturbed or touched, retract and hide inside their shell

 This one, though reluctant, still obliged to pose. Take note of the already worn out shell, maybe it has been home already to many generation of inhabitants. 

Camera Critters


  1. Fascinating! Wouldn't you love to know where all that shell has traveled before becoming this crab's home?

  2. This crab is practicing Recycling which is very enviro-friendly, hehehe! Seeing the giant crinum lily reminds me of my childhood days, my head among the leafy folds of white spider lilies looking for fighting spiders - a game I play with the boys, I mean helping to catch spiders, not spider fighting!

  3. You'd think I knew some creatures had 10 legs. Nope I did not. Enjoyed this post and seeing the biggest lily I have ever seen.

  4. AB's recycling term is cute yet true. I have seem a whole group of them fighting. The biggest shell was surrounded by smaller ones of various sizes. A few of them switched shells....smaller to bigger... Didn't look like a recycling scene though, more like fighting for a bigger house to live in. They were all at the beach. Surprised to see that you found them on crinum lilies.

  5. Hermit crabs, they look so exotic to me now :)

  6. Very very cool! I would love to see them all lined up waiting for a new shell.

  7. Now this is one odd garden critter one would not expect to find. Very good catch, Andrea.

  8. So interesting and fascinating! You were able to capture some great moments. I am glad the crab was willing.

  9. I wonder how they keep the shells on without falling off.

  10. Now that is a gaint Lily! Wow! Great pictures and story. I use to pick up hermit crabs on the beach as a kid and play with them. Always wanted to see one out of the shell but never did. Ha Ha! Have a great weekend.

  11. The shell makes him like like a crusty old thing! Almost wise.

  12. I wonder if these critters are edible. You know, how local folks find inventive ways to make dishes out of unthinkable ingredients.

    Sorry, I had a small lunch and haven't had my 'merienda' yet so all I can think of is food...LOL

  13. Indie- You are giving me more thoughts to ponder on! That is impossible for anybody, i guess. But i am sure it is in the sea! And very sure it is on Earth, haha!

    Autumn Belle - you are very right! Everything in the universe has a purpose, it was just so unthinkable for the creator of things to have thought about that! And we played with them too as kids.

    Randy - To tell you frankly, even if i know of hermit crabs, i just learned of the 10 legs when about to post this, as i searched on it a bit. Before, i thought they could be like the octopus or arachnids, 8 legged. At least blogging teach us some things too!

    One - Oh so you have seen them, maybe you are one of the very few privileged who saw that. Maybe Donna hasn't seen your comment when she did her comment here. She will later realize you got ahead and got more points!!!

  14. Thank you so much Andrea for coming by my blog and commenting! My daughter is a budding photographer, and I thought the designs in the sand made a very interesting shot. We were fascinated with the huge clumps of seaweed and the crustacean shells we found inside them. I love your two beach pictures in your next post. How fascinating about the hermit crabs, though, lining up in queue to change shells! It would truly be wonderful to catch them at this time and photograph it. Loved that you found so many hiding in the lily. The info was great and I loved the pictures. Please visit me again! All my best--


  15. Well that one was an eye opener, how amazing is mother nature!

  16. Hi, Andrea, thanks for visiting my blog and commenting. I always love visitors, and hope they will return to see our travels.
    Hermit crabs in a garden! That's a fascinating post for Camera Critters. I've never heard of such a thing before, and I like the close-up shot. Thanks for telling us about them, and about the huge lily plant.

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie’s Guide to Adventurous Travel

  17. Wonderful shots of such interesting creatures! What glorious variety our Creator blessed our world with.

  18. I've always been fascinated by hermit crabs. I love how their shells are reused by many generations. Such sensible, and adorable creatures.

  19. Wow! ~ engaging shots! Love them! ~hanks, namaste, Carol (A Creative Harbor) linked w/Camera Critters ^_^

  20. this is cool and fascinating. it must have been a real treat to see this critter up close. great find and thanks for sharing Andrea.

  21. Crabs in a garden - well that's a first. Lovely shots!

  22. What a big lily and and the hermit crabs are cool. Wonderful critter photos.

  23. Marie (Once the Tile Lady)- I am glad you came here too, it really is nice to share experiences, more so with your beach photos too.

    Foxglove Lane - i am grateful for your visits here often, i love comments most of all, they inspire me.

    Kay L. Davies - we share the love for comments, they are the life of my blogging escapades. thank you.

    Garden Sense - yes isn't it amazing about the hermit crab culture in getting their houses!

    Curbstone Valley Farmn - you are more privileged than I, cause you learned about hermit crabs ahead. I just learned of their habits just because of blogging.

  24. Carol and Artmuse - I am grateful for your comments here. I hope you drop by again.

    Life Ramblings - our surroundings really provide great and unusual information, we just have to be more observant. But i still envy your Capadocia visits, LOL

    Lady fi - yes this could be first among us, I haven't seen it yet in blogs i visited, haha! Thanks for commenting.

    eileeninmd - I am also amazed with those lilies, but i am more amazed with the crabs resting inside it. Glad you came over, thanks.

  25. Oh i forgot the other commenters, thought i already did, sorry about that.

    Mark and Gaz - yes they are already exotic to you because you might have been there already for a long time.

    Tina - that episode in their culture would really be a lovely scene to watch, i hope i will still have time to watch it in the future.

    Donna - yes it is a bit unusual, but if your garden is in a small island it is common.

    The Sage Butterfly - they are not so happy to see me, but i nudged and force them to pose, haha!

    b_a_g - actually at their posterior end they have a claw-like structure to firmly clutch on the shell, I just don't know if it was adaptation structure or already there on creation.

    pumpkydine - will you believe that i also haven't seen one outside their shell. When we were kids we used to pull them, but they retract more. Some kids crack the shell to see them, but i dont have a memory of the naked hermit crab now!

    Holley Garden - that's a very nice thing to say about them, almost wise, and their namesake of course are wise, the hermits!

    SR - you sure are hungry! I heard some kids make them as baits "sa pamimingwit". I forgot the English word for that fishing style, with a pole plus line and hook in shallow waters.

  26. Around here, they are popular aquarium/terrarium pets and the kids go to the beach to find larger and larger shells. They are quite popular at school where the kids have class pets like hermit crabs and hamsters. My kids would sometimes have the special privilege of bringing home the pet for the summer to pet sit during summer vacation. We got the hamsters, not the hermit crabs... my nephews always had them for pets though!

    They are great pets for kids as they are fun to watch and live a long time.

  27. Great shots! I love hermit crabs. I'd love to see them here:) Although they do get into everything don't they?:)

  28. Shalom Andrea.
    The last picture is especially amazing. That old and beautiful shell gives us something to ponder.
    Your creatures and plants look so exotic to me. Jerusalem unfortunately has no body of water for such things to grow in or around.
    Thanks for your visit.


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