We Have Crabs…(But It’s Not What You Think)

We didn’t have pets on the farm. We begged to have a dog until we realized the futility. My mom didn’t want to get stuck taking care of our animals, which I’m sure would have happened—even though we promised to be responsible.

Instead, we had stray cats that would bring dead mice to the door as an offering. We would often have to step over the carcasses as we made our way to the bus. When I was twelve, we took care of our great-uncle’s horse for a few months, but then, he took the horse back to sell. Each spring, we watched calves being born in the pasture. Sometimes we’d bottle-feed and pet the calves, but when they grew up, we ate them.

As adults, all of my siblings have owned dogs and/or cats. They’ve enjoyed the riches of pet ownership. Being allergic to both dogs and cats—and not interested in a more non-traditional pet—makes our house an animal-free zone. Besides, we’ve always traveled so much during the summer, we didn’t want to have to find a petsitter. But a few days ago, we became the proud owners of crabs.

Yes, the boys went to the lake with their cousins and found hermit crabs at one of the tourist stores. The boys fell so over-the-top in love with them, Miguel broke the no-pet reign in our household. The crabs have painted shells of Batman and Superman symbols (which we later read is a big no-no because the paint can chip. When the crabs eat the toxic paint, they can die!). With the boys’ favorite superhero symbols already on their backs, how could Miguel say no? (Just for the record, had I been there, I would have said “NO!” which is why I’m often referred to as “no fun” in our house.)

After Miguel bought them, he did some research on what they need. He purchased a Hermit Crab kit with sand, a sponge (for drinking water and humidity), food, etc.. Miguel quickly realized that this is going to be a little more work than he expected—for him. I’m taking my mother’s stance of not being responsible—though I do admit that the boys love the sort-of-cute-if-you’re-into-creepy-crawling crabs.

Every morning Joaquín wakes up and runs to see Batman. He’s very disappointed that Batman has been burrowed in the sand for the past couple days. (Um, we hope he’s just tired from the big move, and not, you know, D-E-A-D). Joaquín stands and watches the crabs in their aquarium and asks questions and wants to pick them up all the time.

Just as excited, Javi loves to look for the crabs and ask about what they eat and when they’re going to eat and if he can eat what the crabs eat. I found him with the water bottle misting the outside of the aquarium. When I asked what he was doing, he said, “Giving the crabs water!” Hermit crabs can live as long as 10-20 years; I’m giving ours a couple of weeks.

What pets do you have?



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2 responses to “We Have Crabs…(But It’s Not What You Think)

  1. I had hermit crabs when I was little! They’re great pets except they kinda stink and aren’t very exciting. 🙂 And I think when they die, they actually vacate their shell.

    I’m glad you’re breaking your no-pets rule. All kids should have a pet growing up! Well, except mine. For now. 😉

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