Recluse? Solitary? Loner? Far from it. The Clibanarius vittatus or Thinstripe Hermit Crab is actually quite the socialite. Living in colonies of shell banks and oyster beds, often numbering hundreds or more, these peculiar crustaceans much prefer a crowd. Unlike true crabs, they don’t grow their own shell, rather occupying those abandoned from marine snails or other hermit crabs. In fact, they have been known to form “vacancy chains”, literally lined up from smallest to biggest as they trade for a bigger home as they grow. Some of the larger ones can actually be seen rolling and wrestling to claim the supreme citadel.
The next time the tide goes out, look closely. There is an underworld of fascinating creatures hiding just beneath the tide. Watch legions of mud snails in their glistening parade, fiddler crabs beckoning with their dominant claws, oysters in their impressive spitting contest, and quahog clams in their one-legged stroll. As for our shy friend the Hermit Crab, well just sit back and enjoy the show.
King of the Shell “Video Snippet”