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The Green Life: Update: Hermit Crabs Move Into New Manmade Homes

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December 19, 2011

Update: Hermit Crabs Move Into New Manmade Homes

Project ShellterProject Shellter has successfully created a shell that hermit crabs want to cozy into.

About two months ago, we reported on the initiative to get more hermit crabs into homes by printing plastic 3D shells. But there was a big hurdle: Nobody knew what kind of shell would attract the crabs.

In recent weeks, though, two crabs in the Los Angeles "crabitat" have relocated to plastic replicas of the Oxystele sinensis, a.k.a. the pink-lipped topshell. Kendall Kashellian was the first crab to make the move. Her sister, Kylie, soon followed suit.

According to Miles Lightwood, a software engineer who watches over the L.A. crabitat, a month went by before a crab even acknowledged one of the 3D creations. “We’ve been talking to people in the hermit-crab community. The first step is for them to see these things as shells,” he says. Lightwood suspects that the need for the crabs to grow out of their old shells before seeking out a new one might be the reason for the month-long wait.

Five crabs live in the L.A. crabitat, and a Brooklyn terrarium houses three more. Project Shellter hopes the other crabs will take to the new digs. But, as Lightwood says, “It’s up to the crabs.”

Click here to watch a nighttime video of Kendall moving into her new shell.

--Jake Abrahamson/ image courtesy of Project Shellter

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