This was a giant Hermit Crab, that I found off the dock the other day. Just wanted to share.
Most hermit crabs have long, spirally curved abdomens, which are soft. The vulnerable abdomen is protected from predators by a salvaged empty seashell carried by the hermit crab, into which its whole body can retract.
Most hermit crabs will use the shells of sea snails (even hollow pieces of wood and stone) to occupy. The tip of the hermit crab's abdomen is adapted to clasp strongly onto the columella of the snail shell. As the hermit crab grows in size, it has to find a larger shell and abandon the previous one. This is often present vigorous competition among hermit crabs for shells.
The availability of empty shells at any given place, depends on the relative abundance of gastropods and hermit crabs, matched for size. Hermit crabs that are kept together, may fight or kill a competitor to gain access to the shell they favor. However, if the crabs vary significantly in size, the occurrence of fights over empty shells will decrease or remain non-existent. Several hermit crab species, both terrestrial and marine, use "vacancy" chains” to find new shells: when a new, bigger shell becomes available, hermit crabs gather around it and form a kind of queue from largest to smallest. When the largest crab moves into the new shell, the second biggest crab moves into the newly vacated shell, thereby making its previous shell available to the third crab, and so on.
A hermit crab with a shell that is too small cannot grow as fast as those with well-fitting shells, and is more likely to be eaten if it cannot retract completely into the shell.
This blog is about one of our families adventures to the Belize Zoo, back in January of 2010. Every now and again, mom tells us to pack a day bag and off we go, headed for another adventure in Belize. Today, our trip took us to the Belize Zoo. I have to tell you, the Belize Zoo is at the top of our list. It is probably the one adventure, we do more than any other tour. I never get tired of seeing the animals and discovering something new at the zoo.
The zoo is a great place for us kids to learn about Belize. You aren't going to see any elephants, lions, tigers or bears here. Every animal in the zoo is native to the country of Belize. All the signs have been hand painted and are written in Creole, a dialect spoken here in Belize.
We enjoyed seeing this one particular deer, who seemed to be hanging his tongue out every time we came by. We'd walk away, and he'd pull his tongue in. We'd come back and he'd hang his tongue out. I guess that was his way of telling us, "feed me".
We got to see something new on this trip, that we hadn't seen before. The White Lipped Peccary Pigs! Oh my goodness, were they stinky! Another real treat for me (this time at the zoo), was getting to hold a boa constrictor. Like I said, each time we come to the zoo, I get to experience something different.
So if you're looking for something fun and exciting to do with "your kids", do what my mom does, and take your kids to the zoo!
The best little zoo in the whole wide world.