Take a Lesson from Gilly (and the colonel)

This has happened to me before, this thinking that my hermit crab was dead. Except I never had a chance to publicly shame my hermit crab because:

  • Back in the early 90s, the internet was just coming out of its Pony Express phase so websites like Dog Shaming didn’t exist.
  • My hermit crab had already been taken to a landfill by the time I learned the awful truth, which involved me being publicly shamed by an Air Force colonel.

I worked for a military lodging office and one night I was waiting for a USAF flight crew to arrive. When the guys came in, one man, a colonel, saw me taking a sip out of my can of Coke which reminded him about his daughter’s hermit crab. Apparently before the colonel left home a few days earlier, he didn’t have time to head off to the pet store to purchase a bigger shell for the hermit crab and instead dropped a Coke can inside the aquarium. He then told his daughter the hermit crab would eventually use that until a better “home” could be found.

The colonel swore to me he’d seen hermit crabs tinkering along the beaches of Costa Rica or Puerto Rico (one of the two) lugging soda cans on their backs in lieu of spacious shells.

It was a friendly conversation and I felt compelled to tell him about my hermit crab’s very recent and unfortunate death. See, I’d just found my little guy splayed out all naked on the rocks, no shell and no movement for a few days, so I wished his little soul a happy afterlife and gently placed him in the trash which was picked up and hauled off the very afternoon I said goodbye.

The colonel jokingly congratulated me on killing my own hermit crab and informed me about the molting process. It turns out my hermit crab wasn’t dead. He wasn’t even dying. He was growing, molting, looking for a new shell to lug around. Believe it or not, I was smart enough to have more shells for him to move into but I was never told it would take days for it to happen. So when I saw him in the same spot over the course of a few days, I just assumed he was dead.

As the flight crew walked out with their room keys, the colonel left me with one last hope:
Maybe he’ll find a lot of nice Coke cans to live in at the dump!

I sure hope he did. I’m so sorry, little guy, but I’m also happy to know I’m not the only one who has been fooled!

I couldn’t find any photos of hermit crabs in cans, but I did find this photo of a hermit crab in a tiny teapot!


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