Well for a Christmas present last year we bought the kids a second hermit crab to keep Ted company, because contrary to their name, hermit crabs are actually rather social. We went to the local pet store and chose a very small guy and the kids named him Fred. This hermit crab was a bit more slow to warm up to my eager children. He would rarely come out of his shell. If you waited for what seemed like forever in kid timing he would finally peek out but the moment you moved he would duck back into his shell and all you would see were his little legs barely hanging out of the seashell he called home.
One evening, not long after the kids got Fred, I went to check their water and Fred was in pieces all over the habitat. Avery was too eager and we surmise that he attempted to pull Fred out for a visit and instead accidentally dismembered him. Isaiah was very unhappy, but frankly we hadn't really had time to become attached to the little guy. Fred was so shy and we had him for so little time that we barely felt the grief that comes with losing a pet, and besides, we still had good ol' Mississippi Ted.
Last night I sent Isaiah to go check Ted's water levels and to give him "a bath" (which is just basically spritzing him with a water bottle) and Isaiah came into to me crying hysterically. Ted was dead. I went to investigate and sure enough there was a clump of Ted legs in his habitat and they were not attached to his seashell home. *sigh* We were all very sad about this, cuz Ted was such a good crab. Isaiah and Huston cried and cried... and I looked at Avery very suspiciously.
Yesterday was our VBS day. The older boys and I were gone all morning. I assumed that Avery took his unsupervised opportunity to "play" with another crab... and failed. I asked Avery, "Did you pull Ted out of his shell?" Avery nodded no. I asked again, "Avery, tell me the truth. Did you pull Ted out of his shell?" Avery again said no. One final time I asked, "Avery, we need to be truthful. Did you pull Ted out of his shell while we were gone today?" This time Avery slowly nodded his head in agreement. I then spent the evening trying to convince him of the graveness of the matter. "Avery, you need to be gentle with our pets. You can't pull on the crabs, they will die. You killed Ted, Avery." I repeated these things until I felt like he "got it" - I wanted him to understand that his actions hurt people, not just Ted. I had him look at his crying brothers and told him that they are sad because Ted is dead. Yeah, I rubbed his nose in it real. good.
I promised the older boys that after church on Sunday, I would take them to the new pet store that just opened up in town and we would purchase a new hermit crab. This alleviated the pain a bit and we pretty much went to bed. I didn't feel like messing with cleaning up crab parts, so I just removed the habitat from the boys' room and told myself I would mess with the mess on Sunday. It had been a VBS day ya know, I was wiped out. The thing was dead so it wasn't goin' anywhere.
We were up with the sun this Sunday morning as usual. After the older boys and I had lunch we headed to the pet store and chose from among their very small crabs. The new crab was christened "Jed" and we happily brought him home. We all still wished we had Ted, this new guy was much smaller than Ted and he didn't remind us of our fun Mississippi vacation, where the kids saw the ocean for the first time. But we were thankful for the new pet.
When we got home, I needed a Sunday nap so the boys played with their new crab while I rested and I told them I would clean out the habitat after I woke up. When I pulled out the habitat and picked up the glob of little crab legs and quickly threw them in the trash, Isaiah asked for Ted's American flag painted seashell - he wanted to bury it. I picked it up and turned it over and what was this, it had legs and they were moving! I took the water bottle and quickly started to spritz him... Ted loves his baths, and low and behold Ted popped right out! He was a pale rosy pink color and all the pieces fell into place. Ted had shed his shell!
I had read about them doing this soon after we bought Ted but the resource I had said that this shedding of the exoskeleton was a rare occurrence... especially in captivity. I don't know if that's accurate... but Ted is a very special crab. :) We were so excited that Ted was still alive! and now he had a friend. I told the boys I thought this was their sneaky way of getting another crab.
I apologized to Avery for accusing him of mistreating Ted and of interrogating a false confession out of him and Avery responded, "See! I told you I killed him!" So yeah, he obviously still doesn't get it. :)
So here is our Ted's exoskeleton - a science lesson for sure: