What do hermit crabs eat


The Hermit Crab
Eupagurus bernhardus

Family: marine hermit crabs (Paguridae)


The hermit crab is a crab that lives in an empty shell. His rear part, which is not covered with a shell, is in the snail shell. Two stalked eyes sit on the head. The left scissors are more developed than the right. Both scissors and legs are serrated on the front.

Diet: Hermit crabs only eat small animals, e.g. For example: bristle worms, snails, mussels and small crabs. They also eat carrion and microorganisms from the soil.

Behavior: Hermit crabs have a soft abdomen. They have to protect it from enemies, so they put it in an empty snail shell. They keep changing snail shells because they are growing. Sometimes the hermit crab places one or more sea anemones on the snail shell, which provides protection for the hermit crab and food for the sea anemone. (Biologists call this kind of community with mutual benefit "symbiosis"). The hermit crab carries the sea anemone, which can only move very slowly, from feeding place to feeding place. For its enemies, the sea anemone is very painful to touch. Sometimes other small animals are also placed on the snail shell to camouflage themselves.

Habitat: The hermit crabs live on sandy soils and a few meters down to a depth of 100 m. Small hermit crabs can also be found in the Wadden Sea near the shore, where they inhabit the shells of mud flats and periwinkles. Later they migrate into deeper water where they can find larger abandoned snail shells (mostly whelks). Since suitable houses are often too scarce, they sometimes move to housing that is too large. But what happens if there aren't enough snail shells that are so important for the hermit crabs? A biologist found that the frequency of the crustaceans decreases when there are few empty shells available to them.


Text by: Lukas Sc. (Mettmann, 11 years), Matthias Hä. (Mettmann, 11 years), Daniel Sm. (Mettmann, 11 years),
Dominik Gi. (Mettmann, 11 years), Marcel Ho. (Mettmann, 10 years)

Photo: House of Nature - Cismar



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