Animals & Wildlife Magazine

She Sells Sea Lego on the Sea Shore!

By Jennambarry @JennaMBarry

She sells sea lego on the sea shore!

Hermit crabs, although decapod crustaceans are not true crabs. Their hard exoskeleton does not encompass their whole bodies leaving their soft abdomens very vulnerable. As is so often the case, nature has an innovative solution for these animals to protect themselves- salvage! The sea beds and beaches that are home to these sneaky critters are littered with the shells from other organisms, most commonly sea snails.

Most shelled organisms either synthesise their own homes using a special organ known as the mantle, or repeatedly grow and shed an exoskeleton. This means that the protective armor grows with the animal. For the hermit crab however, empty shells from deceased animals make the perfect temporary ‘jacket’. The natural perils of ocean life mean that shells are abundant in many different shapes and sizes, therefore as these little fashionistas grow, they can simply ditch their old jackets and pick up a fancy new and larger one. This is often a very competitive spree and it is common to see crabs of all different shapes and sizes gathering to either exchange their statement pieces, or fight for the seasons new arrivals.

Hermit crabs are very common throughout British rockpools and shorelines, however one particular resident based at Legoland Windsor is surely set to win the trident this year with his 100% unique, 100% lego choice. Aquarists at his ‘Atlantic Interactive’ exhibit always provide Harry with ample choice of shells, however this year they placed a decorative lego shell in his environment only to find Harry defying convention and opting for the bright, bold, angular option. As a result of his preference, the legoland model makers stepped in to switch the decorative tank ornament for a more anatomically correct lego shell and Harry immediately slipped in.

You may be dubious as to the legitimacy of Harry’s choice, indeed there are suggestions that this may be a publicity stunt of sorts. However as yet reports suggest that Harry is very happy in his new home, and I’m never surprised at the diversity of behavior in the natural world. Perhaps Harry has been forced into his new garment, but research suggests that hermit crabs would rather remain naked than accept a shell that did not live up to expectation, furthermore the leading cause of nudity is thought to be associated with high stress so it seems sensible to assume that if he’s wearing the lego, it’s simply because he wants to.

Animal behavior is a constant stream of surprise and discovery, and is very rarely conformist. I think this is a sweet example of that ever variable dynamic and I hope they continue to provide Harry with a variety of options in his future!

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog