Thursday, March 21, 2013

Hairy hairies

Most of the hermit crabs I picked up the other day on the beach were the usual finds; little greenmarks, and slightly bigger hairy hermits. But a few were unlike any I'd seen before.

Yesterday's speedy hermit.

The hairy hermits are more or less hairy. These ones are super hairy. Fuzzy on the body, fuzzy all down the legs, all along the pincers.

This one's furry enough to hide his blue and white knees.

Compare them to the ones I'm used to:

This is a hairy hermit, Pagurus hirsutiusculus. Yes, he's hairy, but not all over.

Another hairy.

One of the hairiest of the hairy hermits.

And the hairiest of the new hermits:

This may be a clue. Even his shell is furry!

In size and coloration (spotted antennae, blue and white knees, basic brownish green body, although these tend a bit towards the orange end of the browns), shape (long antennae, one pincer larger than the other), home site (upper intertidal) and habits (they like a small shell, and they move quickly), they are like the hairy hermits.

My encyclopedia has photos of very hairy hermits, but the colour pattern and body proportions are different.  So these do look like hairies, but why the extra load of fuzz?

The one with a furry shell makes me wonder if they haven't been colonized by hydroids, or some fuzzy algae. The hermits in a clean shell, like the one at the top, may have changed the shell recently.

I found a few images on the web with very hairy hairies, along with photos of normally hairy ones, at WallaWalla U. I notice that the really furry ones have a lot of crud in the hair; so do mine. It would be interesting to examine it under a microscope.

What else I found, I'll show you tomorrow.

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