The crabnapper next door

Google “accidentally took crab home from the beach,” and you’ll see we’re not the only ones facing the crabnapper’s dilemma: what to do when the beautiful, empty shell you bring home from the beach is actually occupied and taking the creature back to his home is not an option.

Unfortunately, there are also people who are taking hermit crabs home on purpose. An employee at the local pet store said she’d had two other customers buying stuff for hermit crabs recently, only they’d kidnapped theirs from Cape Cod.  One has already died, she said.

As for our temporary crab, Atlas, he’s still hanging in there, and recently moved to a bigger tank we found on the side of the road. He has sand from the Caribbean, water from the Pacific, and all the mail-order algae he can eat. I have played the Hallelujah Chorus for him. He’s listened to Shakespeare. He’s flown on a plane. It’s like he won the crab lottery. He’s the Ken Bone of crabdom.

He’s still mad as hell about it, waving his tiny claws at us like Achmed the Terrorist.

I contacted the New England Aquarium in hopes that they’d let him join one of their tanks, but the “curator of fishes” (job of the week) said they only have local species because of the possibility that critters from other regions might carry parasites or disease to which New England animals aren’t immune.

A biologist at the South Carolina Aquarium, who clearly has never waded into the ocean in New England, suggested gradually acclimating him to colder water and releasing him locally. This seemed doable, until I read this story about a lobster that was rescued and released, found dead a week later – the likely victim of temperature change.

I’ve been trying to acclimate to New England ocean water for nearly a decade. Ice baths are warmer.

We’ve asked the legendary Kelly’s Roast Beef if Atlas could join one of their saltwater fish tanks. They politely declined. We’ve posted a “lonely crab looking for friend” ad on Craigslist. Nothing.


So, we’re still looking for a solution that doesn’t result in death or damnation – you know, in case we’ve been wrong about this whole “God made man in His image” thing, and it turns out God’s actually a striped-leg hermit crab, in which case we’re doomed.

Here is Atlas, in his natural shell. crab-020

What do you think? Is he a cool summer or a deep winter? The online color tests aren’t helping much:

Body type: Cockroach

Skin tone: Mottled

Eyes:  Brown, on a stick.

Natural hair color: I keel you for asking.

7 thoughts on “The crabnapper next door

  1. Miss Jennifer, if you were ever handed a free pass for a spontaneous autumnal coastal tour, this is it. With a publishable narrative along the way or at the end.

    From MA to SC and back, you can stock up on von Atlas’ needs while telling many stories and taking many photos in between.

    I’ve upgraded Atlas to von Atlas. Anyone who’s been through what he’s been through deserves a noble title (or however it worked in the Hohenzollern days). Plus, the way he keeps upgrading his castle residences means he’s either working his way up the aristocracy food chain or signaling the rest of us that the US housing market is shaping up for another crash. In either case, it’s interesting!


  2. One “upside” is all the great story material you’re getting from his adventure! Enjoying the ongoing saga 🙂 Donna >


  3. I think Atlas is playing you.

    Granted, staying alive while getting from SC to MA in a backpack is an extraordinary accomplishment — worthy of James Bond.

    James Bond … hmmm. Like James Bond, Atlas has ensconced himself in a posh environment teeming with delights from around the globe, and he has someone else footing the bill. (That would be you, miss.)

    Sand from the Caribbean? Water from the Pacific? Imported seaweed? What’s next? Russian caviar? Russian hookers? Custom-made velveteen slippers with hand-embroidered monograms?

    Those angry little claws are more capable than they appear. If you wake up to find that Atlas is gone and, on the same day, learn that your Visa card has been hit with fraudulent charges for a Louis Vuitton bag and Two Tickets to Paradise, don’t say you weren’t warned!


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