Dude, Where’s My Hermit Crab?: In Defense of Hermit Crabs as Pets

Dude, where's my hermit crab? Cats make you sneeze? Consider getting a hermit crab as a pet.

“Mommy, why don’t we have a pet?” – Jack
“Because all we have to eat in this house right now is cake frosting and wine. Do you really think I can be responsible for another living thing? – Me
“…” – Jack
“When you’re older.” – Me

And it’s true. Some day we will get a pet. Namely a dog. And his name will be Elway, as in John Elway. Glen has already determined this and I think he snuck it into our wedding vows. For better, for worse, for one day we will have a dog and we will name him Elway, until death do us part.

But not right now. Unless all you need to take care of a dog is a toddler and preschooler who leave entire meals worth of food under the table every day and a couch that you don’t care too much about. Both helpful I think, but I think you also need to water them and at this stage in life I can’t be trusted with that.


Little Pet Shop of Horrors

I didn’t grow up with dogs. And definitely not cats. But we did have some pets that fit the required hypoallergenic bill. There were a couple goldfish that we got as wedding favors. Man, I really loved the 90s… But the vast majority of our pets were hermit crabs.

Year after year we would go to the New Jersey shore on vacation and year after year we would visit a gift shop called Things A Drift. It was filled with driftwood signs and shell necklaces and as a kid I thought the owner was the most magical person I’d ever experienced. Also in her store were cages of hermit crabs for purchase.

Reflecting back I don’t fully understand the appeal of hermit crabs as a pet. Except maybe their shells were cool? They were not soft, could not play fetch, and had a general disinterest in being pet hermit crabs. Also, dear, sweet Lord when they die… It’s a nightmare. A shell-less alien nightmare.

Yet I loved them just the same and for many years a hermit crab made its way back home with us in a little cage. My first hermit crabs were Pinky and Rocky. Later came Cloe, and Zoe, and Abby, and Gabby. Hermit crabs don’t live that long and I went from a very literal naming phase to a very “I’m playing a lot of The Game of Life and always wanted to pick up the You Just Had Baby Girl Twins! card” naming phase.

I gave them their water and peanut butter and said hello to them in the morning. I would take them out of their cage and create obstacle courses out of paper towel rolls. Sometimes we would write poetry. Just a girl and her crabs. Wait…



My favorite hermit crab story brings us back to 1990 when my family was getting ready to move from Connecticut to Massachusetts. Rocky was the hermit crab of the year and he was kind of huge. A big hulking brown shell and supernatural strength. Rocky lived in a nice cage, but one day he had decided that the world was a big place and he wanted to explore it.

We woke up to find the top off of Rocky’s cage and no hermit crab to in sight. Not great. What made this super not great? We were moving VERY shortly and realtors were showing our house to perspective buyers. Somewhere loose in this house was a monster crab that could crawl across a buyer’s feet at any given moment and cost my parents thousands of dollars. Should have just gotten the kids a dog, guys…

My family looked all over the house. I was five so I probably helped a little and then got distracted by a My Little Pony and rendered myself useless. We They looked behind couches, in cabinets, upstairs, downstairs… Dude was just gone. Or hiding really well, plotting his revenge, and ready to pounce.


A Real Americrab Hero

My parents finally realized that they were going to need to tell the realtor. Just imagine that conversation. “By the way, if you see a crab when you’re showing the house can you just slowly push it away and not freak out? K cool.”

Somehow we escaped the house showings without incident but there was still the problem of the missing crab when were packing up to move. Rocky has been gone for three weeks at this point so we figured he had probably gotten a work Visa and gone to Canada for their work-life balance and universal healthcare. Could you blame him, eh?

One of the last items to be packed up and moved away was the entertainment center because I was five, my brother was two, my mother stayed home with us, and she understood that television was created because God loves us and wants us to be happy. As the entertainment center was dismantled and pulled away from the wall, my parents looked down to find Rocky hanging out in cable wires COMPLETELY UN-PHASED.

Or I guess he was as completely un-phased as a hermit crab could be. Rocky must have been scurrying out at night to get water and toddler food scraps because he wasn’t any worse for the wear. Little man had the eye of the tiger, a fighter.


In Defense of Hermit Crabs as Pets

Eventually Rocky passed away and he was buried in the backyard of our new home. I’ll always remember his spirit and tenacity. I hope to emulate that in my life. Except the living behind an entertainment unit and frightening realtors part. I’ll leave that to the pros.

Is your kid asking for a pet? While I stand by my earlier statement that these dudes are totally bizarre, I’m going to put a stake in the ground in defense of hermit crabs as pets. They inspired a 1,000 word blog post and left me with lovely memories. #WorthIt.


With hopes that I have become a better pet parent with age,

With Love and a Little Self-Deprecation

4 Replies to “Dude, Where’s My Hermit Crab?: In Defense of Hermit Crabs as Pets”

  • I didn’t get a real pet until I was 16-17. And he loved and favored me more than my sister which made it even better! We went on a many late night adventures to see various boys 🀣

    But I did have an unusual pet. A friend gave me 2 frogs. Tiny little things and I seriously don’t know what provoked her into thinking me– a girly girl through and through — would enjoy these things. But hey they didn’t need to be walked or even fed daily. I think I once went 2 weeks without feeding them. By accident. Well it was truly survival of the fittest because 1 ate the other. I saw it coming I would have to distract him to make sure the other one ate. My mom told me while I was at the beach that it had happened and I didn’t believe her because they wasn’t a skeleton carcass in the bowl… only it was. Shifted under the rocks. πŸ’β€β™€οΈ only cool thing was loud music made them bounce off the glass like crazy so naturally they lived beside my stereo for a while.

    I also had my share of goldfish. None ever from a wedding but that sounds like a way better favor! I had one fish last 5 whole years… went to the fair and got another one and came home he was belly side up…

    My daughter got a beta on her 2nd birthday lasted a year… I haven’t had the strength to bring another pet. Aquatic or not into the house since. I was more heartbroken than she was but the end goal is a puppy haha.

    • Oh goodness! How did I forget to reply to this epic pet story! I’m still blown away by a goldfish lasting 5 years… That’s crazy!

    • They are super weird. We had some good times, but honestly I’m kind of dreading the day my kids see them on the Jersey Shore boardwalk and ask to bring one home… haha.

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