Hermit Crabs Adapting To Kick Neighboring Crabs Out Of Homes

By Jessica Rawden 2012-10-27 14:28:24
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This week in weird animal news, we’re taking a look at hermit crabs, a species which will congregate socially, but for the unlikeliest of reasons. Apparently, hermit crabs are sneaky little creatures that will join together into a group. Most of the hermit crabs are looking to trade up to a larger shell, and will attempt just about anything to knock another hermit crab out of its home.

This behavior was recently noted by a University of Berkeley scientist, Mark Laidre, who reported his findings in this month’s Current Biology. When one hermit crab does manage to knock another out of its shell, the crab who loses his home is forced to take over the smaller abode—which offers far less protection from predators. In a group of hermit crabs clustered together, the one with the smallest shell is the most at risk of getting eaten, so keeping a decent-sized abode is pretty important. Since the crabs must also hollow out the shells to make more space, this is a game the smaller, younger crabs like to play with the older crabs, who really can’t fit into smaller or un-remodeled shells.

Most hermit crabs usually spend time without other hermits, and, according to UC Berkeley Newscenter, the learned behavior Laidre studied is a good example of life adapting to new circumstances over a period of time. In this case, the particular species of hermit crabs have moved from the ocean to land, and have had to change behavior accordingly. Hermit crabs may not be the most fascinating creatures to follow, but innovation in any species is pretty important.
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