My cleaning crew was getting skimpy, so this trip to the beach, I scooped up a handful of snails, all piled together under a rock. I brought along a few small clumps of barnacles, too, to help filter the water.
I should have checked them then and there. I didn't. Careless of me.
At home, every single "snail" turned out to be a hermit. And each of the barnacle clumps was loaded on the back of another hermit. There are now about 30 hermit crabs in my tank. They don't mind the crowding; they're a gregarious bunch.
But they've set me a few puzzles, and given me a good laugh, besides. For starters, let's look at a few of those barnacle carriers:
|An identical hermit, with just a plain, unbroken shell. He's a speedy runner.|
More about this guy, later.
|This tiny greenmark hermit is wearing half a snail shell; from the open end, part of his abdomen is just visible. On the left side, the shell is weighted down with one large barnacle, this one bearing three smaller ones.|
And I had to laugh at this next poor beast of burden. (I know: he's not laughing. But I've given him his choice of new shells; that should make up for it.)
|Chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry cone. The pink is some sort of encrusting sponge.|
|"Oh, my aching back!"|
|"Scram! I'm not a bus!"|
|"I never signed up for this! And they're not paying me, either!"|
At one point, 3 other hermits were all crammed together on his back, picking at the algae on his cargo of barnacles. His poor legs were splayed out on the sand. He couldn't move.
I've donated a handful of clean, empty shells, in his size range, so he can abandon his pack.
The hermit puzzle, tomorrow.