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20 May 2009 @ 02:46 am
Big update here. I just haven't been well enough/had enough energy to update until now.

The biggest thing: The Happy Hermit store has shut down. I'm kind of in shock over that right now. I haven't visited it in a while because I was doing fine on food. But now that the crabs are getting bigger and eating more (Kong in particular), I wanted to stock up. The only hope I have now is that the store might reopen (which I doubt), or that I can get the ingredient list and try to mix it myself (which might not be possible due to trouble finding reliable ingredients). But the guys really love the stuff from that store and I don't want them to suddenly be deprived of a food source that's not only good for them, but one that they're eager to eat. I'll have to figure something out, because I just don't think they'll be as healthy without things like the pre and post molt food, and the staple.

The littlest crab who lost a leg did survive it and seemed just fine, in fact. Still active and eating and running around. The problem is that I haven't seen her in a few weeks now. I've seen the other four, but not her. I have a huge, hollow cholla wood root in the terrarium that takes up a large amount of space and I know the guys hide in there all the time, so I'm hoping she's just in there and only comes out when I'm not around. It's getting on towards time to clean out the whole cage, though, so maybe I'll know for sure soon.

I do have some nice pics, including one of the new, bigger food dish I've had to put in there due to their increased appetites. Hopefully I'll find time in the next couple days to download and post those.

Kong is currently visiting every food and treat dish, even the very green crab calci sand. It's a wonder he doesn't poop green after eating all that.

I had a bug problem in the cage. It was my fault for purchasing a piece of driftwood at a local pet shop and not baking it first. I'm not sure what the heck those bugs were (tiny and brown), but they infested the wood, the coconut mat I was using in the cage and a smaller piece of cholla root. All have since been removed and I'm hoping that took care of the problem. I'll know more when I pull everything out to clean it. (The crabs were eating those bugs, I think. Weird.)
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16 March 2009 @ 08:40 pm
I did a full cage clean when I got home from work tonight and as always, once everything was out of the way, I went looking for the missing crabs. I only had three turn up without a search this time, so after triple checking all decor, I had to go digging. I'd leave them in there, but a full clean means taking off the top layer of sand and mixing up the substrate so the wetter sand on the bottom mixes with the dryer on top. I found one guy that way and he was fine, but my littlest one, the poor thing, she must have only finished molting two or three days ago. She'd eaten most of her exo and there was only a claw left, but what really alarms me is the leg I found. It looks like a whole one and not a shed one. It's bad enough that I dug her up, but for her to lose a leg, too? Now I'm extremely worried that the shock of both things might be too much for her. I did the only thing I could think of, which was to build up a fresh moss pit and put her near the bottom with the claw and leg, then cover her with more loose moss. It's damp and dark in there and I've made it a bit harder for the other guys to get into, and it's the best I can do. Now I just have to wait and see and hope for the best.

I've been worried for months that something like this might happen, but the cage clean has to be done and I'm just not sure how else to go about it. They've all done so well these past few months and I've managed to schedule the cleanings around their molts, but this time our luck ran out.

I'm so worried about her. She's so little.
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20 February 2009 @ 10:50 pm
I have a crab in my hair. She started climbing up my nightshirt when I was writing in one of my other journals. She went around my back, found my hair (not too hard to do when there's four feet of it), and now she's made her way to the top of my head. The tips of her legs are very sharp and it feels a bit like a mini-scalp massage. I may have to encourage the others to do it too. If she keeps exploring like this, I'll end up calling her Dora. I don't think I care for that name, otherwise I would've stuck it on her already.

All five of them were out and about this afternoon and they look great. Food's being eaten (and tossed in the fresh water dish) and they're running about the place happily (or so I assume). They certainly seem a whole lot happier with this new set up.

She's down to my shoulder now. Fast mover.

Like others, I've tried various different water bowls in order to find something that the crabs like and is better suited to them (read: no risk of drowning). I think I've finally found the perfect thing.

Name: Groovy Jacuzzi
Manufacturer: Fluker's
Rating: 5
Comments: Due to a thread on the HCA forum, I tried out Fluker's small Groovy Jacuzzi as a salt water dish. It worked out well. Very little sand got past the large rim. When I ran an airline down into the bowl, however, I found that the small size wasn't big enough to turn it into a good bubbling bowl. The bubbles took up everything, the crabs didn't have any non-bubbly water to approach, and the water dissipated too quickly. So, I bought the medium size. Using the small one as the fresh water dish and the medium one as the salt water bubbling pool has turned out to be an excellent idea. The bubbling keeps the humidity up while still leaving plenty of calm water around the bubbling for the crabs to dip a claw in (which I've observed a few times now). Both the small and the large do a great job of keeping out the substrate while still giving the crabs a comfortable/safe place to drink in (and bathe, judging from what I've seen floating in there).

I want to do a few food reviews here, but this is where I have to admit that I've been an idiot. The Hermit Crab Patch products tend to be recognizable due to contents and/or package size, and The Happy Hermit sticks labels on their products so I know what they are and where they came from. Crabotanicals however, while having very nice packaging, doesn't have any labeling on the actual packages themselves and the packages are nearly all the same size and the contents the same consistancy. So by now what I have is a number of label-less packages, most of which I can only make guesses as to the identity of their contents. Making reviews more difficult, I no longer offer only one dishful of food at a time. I'm trying to make the most of the space I have by combining three to six items at once, usually related to each other in some way. For instance one dish contains all color enhancing foods (flowers, berries, etc.), another contains all moss/pond scum things, and another contains all leafy/straw-like stuff. So by now I can't honestly say what in any mix the crabs might like more. I do know they spend most of their time in that last dish, but trying to figure out what's in there, well, I really can't be sure I know anymore. I think the mix is The Hermit Crab Patch's Surf-n-Turf Protein Mix (actually, I'm sure this is one of the things in there), Crabotanicals' Shepherd's Milk, Seed Savvy, and maybe Pond Scum. Really not sure on those last three, but at least two of them are probably in there. Anyway, whatever mix is in there I'd have to give it close to a 5 due to how often I've come in to see different crabs camped out in the shell dish, for minutes (sometimes an hour) at a time. Not even me opening the terrarium drives them away from it.

I'm going to make an effort to label all the food, or at least find a way of attaching the Crabotanicals packaging to the food mini-ziplocks so I know what I'm feeding the guys. I've just gone through online pics and compared that, along with package ingredients (and I really, really didn't want to know about the mosquito larvae) to the packages themselves and I think I have everything sorted out right for the moment. I'm going to go find a way to keep it that way.
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12 February 2009 @ 06:04 pm
Lied about the pics, sorry. Just haven't gotten any that are good enough to post.

I just finished putting new food, water and shells in there, and immediately after I was done, there was Kong, drinking out of the salt water bowl. Then he went right over to the shells and started in on them. He's still at it. I wonder how long it'll take him to figure out that he's at the small shell dish and that the large shell dish is over on the other side of the terrarium?

Looks like one of the other guys is peeking his antennae out to see what's up. Oooh, they're in the same shell dish now. Looks like this'll be an interesting afternoon.
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10 February 2009 @ 04:52 am
I had no time to take pictures of the new set up (more like no energy; I was up all night), but next time I'm in there tidying things up, I'll snap a few. The guys love it. It has new levels, new things, new shells, stuff they're still all playing with. I'm seeing most of them out in day as well as night now, running around, eating, exploring, sometimes looking at me; they seem very happy, much happier than in the last setup.

I've decided to name one of the guys "Kong." I've been holding off on giving them all names so I could learn their personalities better (which is very hard in one case since I rarely see him/her unless I'm doing a full cage clean; if s/he keeps that up s/he'll be named "Bashful," or some such), but in this case it just seemed appropriate. I wish she'd been a he, because "Queen Kong" appeals to me, but "Kong" will do fine. And it's more a case of the proverbial 500 pound gorilla than the actual King Kong, anyway.

I deliberately put a couple oversized shells in with the others, not too drastically oversized, but still too big, just something to let them have some fun with. Except that Kong has decided to use one of them. It's twice the size of what he needs, but he is determined to keep that shell. He's had it on for most of a week now and seems to love it, or at least love how big it makes him seem. He is the largest of all five crabs, but only by a molt or two. He's really not that much bigger than the next two biggest. But he picked this large gold-mouthed Turbo to run around in and now he seems to think that it makes him in charge. He's pushing the others out of his way, sometimes bodily and sometimes with his limbs, making like he owns the food dishes, and I suspect that the disagreement I overheard last night had to do with him pushing others around again. He thinks he runs the place. It's amusing from my point of view, but I'll have to keep a closer eye on things in there now that he's developed this attitude. It's really a rather large terrarium for five crabs, I just hope that space lets the other guys keep out of his way enough.

While I like shell dishes and the like, I'm finding that they aren't as sturdy as I need them to be. Case in point, one of the shell dishes I put on the upper level managed to be tipped over and have its contents dumped right down to the next ledge and then the sand below. It's messy and a waste of food. I'm trying to take care of some of that issue by combining similar treats (color enhancers, for example - red and blue) in mini curved ceramic dishes. The ledges on those are short enough to let even the smallest of the five climb in there and there's no risk of them being dumped over. I started that during this last redecoration to see how it works, and based on the good results so far, I think I may start using those for the more powdery/messy foods and leave the shell dishes for things like pieces of fruit and meat.

Last time I was at PetSmart, I found a decent deal on Zoo Med's Hermit Crab Sand in Yellow. (They had the glow-in-the-dark color from T-Rex, but I don't care how many times I read that that's safe, I just can't bring myself to feed the guys something that contains chemicals to make it glow.) I could've gotten blue, but I wanted something that had a slightly more natural look, or at least went better with the terrarium decor. The yellow is bright, but it also look like it belongs in the current setup. I've filled one of those mini ceramic dishes with it, mixed in some calcium powder, and put it next to the main food bowl on the second level. From the looks of things, the guys have spent some time in there. It's not in the way of anything, so they must've at least gone in to investigate it, play, or have a nibble.

I think I just saw some bullying going on in there between the two crabs closest to Kong's size. I wonder if Kong starting to throw is weight around, so to speak, is rattling the previous hierarchy and they're having to sort things out again.

So far the interest in the moss pit seems confined to what I assume must be contests to see who can toss pieces of moss the furthest. Hard to say how else the incredible mess in there came about. I'll have to come up with a different container for the moss this week. I'm currently using an upside down coconut hut, but that door carved into it is letting them dig moss out and scatter it widely. I may go get a coconut and just saw it in half myself. I could actually get two moss pits that way. Huh. I like that idea.

I definitely like the Fluker's Groovy Jacuzzi. It's much deeper than the other bowls I've been using while still having ledges to make sure the crabs don't drown. They don't seem to be able to drag as much sand in there, either. Actually, I'm starting to speculate that the sand I am seeing in there is due to the guys bathing themselves in there and cleaning out there shells, instead of dragging half the substrate into the water when they walk by. I only have one so far, but I'm thinking strongly of ordering a second.

I've tried to set up and actual jacuzzi using that water dish, but so far I'm not having much luck. The air pump isn't nearly as quiet as I'd hoped for and it kept falling off the place I'd arranged for it. The air hose refuses to stay in the water and the dish simply isn't large enough to accommodate and air stone, which would fix the problem. I'll have to give the problem some more thought when I'm less drugged and in pain (surgery went well, after affects still crop up with a vengeance).

Pictures next time.
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I'm about to completely redesign the terrarium. I've gotten tree fern slabs to replace the styrofoam backdrop that came with the terrarium (the guys are eating it and that can't be healthy). I have fresh sand to add to the substrate, a ton more choya wood (including a large, hollow root piece), a new water dish and air pump with tubing to create a bit of a jacuzzi for them, moss, new shells by the hundreds and gallons, and a lot of new foods. I want them to be uber comfortable while I'm away for the next few days.

I'm having surgery tomorrow morning and I'll be gone for at least three days, possibly more. I'm leaving detailed instructions so someone can come in and change the water, toss in/take out bits of fresh food, wipe away any condensation, etc. Hopefully things will go well until I'm back home.
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26 December 2008 @ 02:29 am
Poor Tarzan. He's the only one of the five not down for a molt. He's been wandering around the terrarium looking lonely and bored for a couple days now. Hopefully the others will emerge soon and keep him company.

Their Christmas gift arrived on Christmas eve. I have a whole box of different sized cholla wood pieces. They need a bit of clean up (I want to hollow them out more than they are at the moment), but once that's done, I may see if I can build the guys something of a jungle gym in there. That should keep them busy and happy for a while.

ETA: One of the guys just came out of hiding/molting! He and Tarzan are socializing right now.

On a different note, I've been providing dishes of color-enhancing foods on a daily basis, and it seems to be having an effect. The guys are showing a nicer red now instead of all pale peach.
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27 November 2008 @ 08:56 pm
I finally have a couple pics, including what I served the crabs for Thanksgiving dinner. But let's start with a close up of one of the guys:Collapse )

I wanted the girls and guys to have the same thing my family had for dinner, so I took small -- very small -- portions of each dish and put them in shell dishes. Here's the menu:Collapse )

I can already hear activity in there. A couple of the guys aren't at all shy so they're probably first at the dishes.

Hope everyone is having a Happy Thanksgiving.
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24 November 2008 @ 06:17 pm
I don't know how it happened -- I did thorough searches in the sand and inside anything they could hide in -- but somehow the fifth crab has survived. I found her by accident last night when I was rewetting the sand. I was mixing in the hot water and suddenly there she was. I'd checked the sand before putting in the water, too. She's the tiniest one of the lot and somehow she managed to hide. Fortunately it seems like the hot water either didn't reach her or the sand insulated her because although she seemed stunned for a while, she's been up and active since late last night. I still can't believe it. All five of the guys are alive and well. I'm thrilled, of course, but very, very puzzled.

When I cleaned the terrarium and redecorated last night, I added two plants (IDs still pending; I'm trying for a vivarium), which they seem to find fun, and I also changed out their shells. All new shells in a new dish, a little over a dozen of them. When I got up this morning, there were three shells left in the dish. The others had been dragged into the crabs' favorite hideout where, I assume, they had a fashion show last night. Certainly two or three of them must be wearing new shells today, because their old ones were lying around. That was some impressive devistation in the shell tub.

Of course, as usually they've picked right through the food and I'm sure they're busy digging new holes to burrow into for the day.

Right now Tarzan is exploring the inside of one of the long choya wood pieces. He's pretty active during the daytime.

I think I need to get more sand for the terrarium. I'd like to pot both plants in sand, for one, but taking out the top layer of sand with each cleaning has also dropped the level noticably. I need to fix that.
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07 November 2008 @ 10:34 pm
I do have photos and interesting bits of news on daily events in the crab world, but I just haven't gotten around to uploading the photos. I swear I'll get there eventually, because I have some very good ones this time. I managed to coax one of the guys out in my palm last week and we played picture time.

I've been giving them different sorts of treats to see what might interest them. One of the late-blooming bushes in the garden produced a flower that they tore to bits. They seemed to like the petals more than the green or the cone. But giving it to them a second night in a row didn't produce much of an enthusiastic response. I have a chicken leg bone in there now and I was watching one of the guys just tear into it, eating with both claws. They like chicken way better than beef or ham. I forgot to see what they thought of pizza. Since I eat it so rarely I ate every bit. I have caught one of the guys eating bits of the sponges in there. That's to be expected, but I hadn't seen it before.

More later.
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