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4 Fun Facts About Island Hermit Crabs

island hermit crabs St Thomas Cas Cay tour

When in the US Virgin Islands, you’ll likely be spending more time in nature that you have while living and/or traveling elsewhere. In fact, that’s what most people find so fun about being here! One of our favorite things is definitely getting to interact with the island wildlife. From seabirds, to lizards, to all those who live beneath the surface of the water, it’s nothing short of miraculous.

One island creature that we can’t get enough of? The humble, yet comical hermit crab.

Hermit crabs can be found pretty much everywhere here in the USVI. They enjoy beach days as much as we do, are ambitious hikers, and even manage to sneak their way indoors sometimes.

There is a literal army of hermit crabs on the uninhabited island, Cas Cay. Our most popular eco tour takes you there to hike and explore, and a “meet n’ greet” with the hermit crabs is often one of our guests’ most talked about memories post-tour.

 

St Thomas Cas Cay eco tour hermit crab

 

Because our guides receive a ton of hermit crab-related questions, we thought you might enjoy reading about a few fun facts about these island characters.

 

4 Fun Facts About Island Hermit Crabs

 

They eat dead things.

Hermit crabs are scavengers, so they’ll eat what they can find on the ground. Often times, this can be dead animals. So while we may find that rotting bit of fish that was dropped by a seabird and has been roasting in the sun for a day pretty unappetizing, the hermies won’t hesitate to dig right in.

 

They like to party as a group. 

Hermit crabs often live in large groups (colonies) of over 100 or more crabs. They sleep piled together, forage for food as a team, and stick close together, in general. You can see this in action over on Cas Cay!

 

They’re often the culprit for those “What was that noise?!” moments.

When out hiking around the islands, enjoying the peaceful quiet in nature, all of a sudden, you’ll sometimes hear a strange crunching noise that makes you think someone (or someTHING!) is coming. Or, you’ll hear strange little croaks. Don’t be alarmed. Both of these are usually the hermit crabs. Moving around with those ungainly shells on their backs, they make a surprising amount of noise scurrying around in the leaves and brush. As for the croaking sound, they use this to communicate with one another, particularly during mating season.

 

hermit crab St. Thomas USVI Cas Cay

 

They practice non-violence, but will pinch, if harassed. 

In general, hermit crabs are pretty mellow creatures. But if they feel like they’re being threatened, they won’t hesitate to use a claw to show their opinion. Keep this in mind if you feel compelled to take a selfie; it’s best to appreciate them without needing to handle them. Same goes for your dogs, many of whom love to chase down hermit crabs into their hidey holes. Many an island dog has learned a value lesson after being pinched on the snoot!

 

Have you seen hermit crabs in the USVI? What was the largest one you spotted?

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