For 11th birthday, my kid's friend gave kid two hermit crabs and all the accouterments. They had belonged to the friend originally. Friend did the right thing and asked me if it was okay. I really didn't want to have a pet - husband is allergic to anything with fur, and the grandfathered-in cat died six years ago - but I said yes. Mostly I said yes because the friend seems to have a fairly precarious home life, bouncing around between a dad, a grandma who doesn't speak to dad, some folks friend's mom used to work for, and during the summer, various camps. The mom does not appear to be in evidence, and I wonder if she is dead, on drugs, or in jail. I know that I would have to be dead before I would be out of my kid's life. I wondered if it was just the friend couldn't really find a home for the hermit crabs and feared they would die.
It turns out that hermit crabs are nocturnal and noisy. They climb around at night. They kind of grossed us out, even my kid, the person whose "present" they were.
Then a couple of days ago my kid went to pick one of them up and it hung limply in its shell. We shook both of them. Both tumbled out of their shells. They haven't moved since then. Web sites reveal that crabs can molt, which means they shed their exoskeleton and then eat it. The hermit crab sites described this as if it were in some way cute. Anyway, molting hermit crabs look like dead ones, I guess. The only way you can tell, according to the web sites, was that dead crabs start to smell.
So far it still smells like sand inside their box/cage. It was 104 here yesterday, very hot for Portland. We unplugged the heater that heats their case so that we didn't end up with cooked crab, alive or dead.
I don't think thing non-domesticated animals, like hermit crabs, are really meant to be pets. They'll never get it, they aren't capable of bonding with you, and their existence becomes limited to a plastic cage of some sort.
Is it terrible that I hope that they really are dead?