E-BULLETIN WEB WORLD : Hawkers Bizarre
Source: The Bulletin with NewsWeek; June 26, 2001

Hermies ‘n’ Herps


In the market for a pet that’s hardy, cute and easy to care for? A hermit crab might sound great, but drop by this site before believing the pet store salesman’s guff, or you’ll have a dead hermit crab within months.

Primary school teacher Vanessa Pike-Russell has maintained a web site offering hermit crab care and feeding advice for six years. This year she made the jump into online e-commerce after gifts from friends in the US made her realise Australian pet stores barely scrape the surface of the myriad of products available to help hermit crabs play and grow.

Nowhere else in Australia – including many real pet stores – will you be able to find hermit crab heating pads, finger puppets, exercise wheels

igloos for privacy, feeding dishes, treats and something called Sam’s monster turbo cycle that helps the little crabs rocket around the room. There are also basking rocks, food, how-top-books and other products for looking after reptiles (“herps”).

The site was never about making money, says Pike-Russell, who has been into hermit crabs for seven years and now owns 23 o the little critters. Rather, she says, it was an extension of her long time involvement in online news groups dedicated to hermit crab care and feeding.

“Too many people were tired of going into pet stores that only had food and salt, taking them home and having them die within six months,” she says. “I hadn’t sold anything online and didn’t want to – so people wouldn’t say I was posting the information online to sell stuff – but so many people had suggested I did it because I know what hermit crabs need. The most important thing about business is meeting a need; while I wouldn’t say people are flooding in, we’ve already had quite a few orders and a lot of people asking questions. I want people to know there is more to keeping hermit crabs than food and salt.”

Written by David Braue, The Bulletin


Radio Interview : 2UE Gardening Show
Thursday 21 June 2001

Hermit Crabs as Pets


Interview with the 2UE Gardening show about why hermit crabs make wonderful pets, how to care for them and information on how nurseries and garden supply companies can be wonderful resources for hermit crab items.

As preparation for the interview, I threw together some ideas about how hermit crabs as pets can be linked to gardening:

Land Hermit Crabs in Australia start off their lives in the water but once they reach their juvenile stage of development they come ashore and breathe air through their modified gills. On land they climb trees, hide out in leaf litter and basically sleep during the heat of the day in the tropics of Western Australia or Northern Territory.

Hermit Crabs eat all sorts of woods including Mangrove root and bark, as well as driftwood that washes up on the beach, and the back from the trees they climb — which has earned them another ‘pet’ name of tree crabs.

When you keep a hermit crab as pet in captivity it is important that you offer them sources of wood and bark that is safe for them to climb on and munch, free from chemicals and mites and other nasties. A good source of wood items is usually in the pet store or nursery. In some nurseries you can buy mangrove root, sanitised bark, sanitised tropical leaf litter, and a range of fine gravel, sand or grits. Hermit crabs need the fibre in their diet, helps their colour deepen and most importantly provides exercise for the captive hermit crab.

A dedicated hermit crabber is always on the lookout for some hermie-friendly objects which are then known as ‘hermie-fied’. A large Mangrove root can become the focal point of your ‘crabarium’ or ‘crabarium’, coupled with some small ceramic pot plant saucers as a heavy-based food dish.
If you have a family member who is sklled in woodwork, you could create a second level for the hermit crabs to ascend, made of pieces of sanitised wood or bark, plastic or silk plants, and perhaps even some astro turf for grip!
A keen eye might also spot some other items a hermit crab would die for, including a sanitised hollowed out log for them to hide beneath, or some packets of alfalfa, water cress or mung beans for their owner to cultivate at home, and place within the tank to provide some ‘greens’ in their crabby’s diet.

It is important that anything you offer your cute lil crustacean kritter buddy isn’t going to harm him. Some people offer pot plants with soil for hermies to burrow within, with a plant to climb. If the sand has fertiliser or pesticide the crab will be likely to perish.
As you can see, the garden and nursery is a supermarket for hermit crabbers, and it is important to recreate some of the comforts of home for your little friend to keep him/her happy and healthy.—–

-Key points:
Mangrove root, tropical leaf litter; food and water dishes from ceramic saucers; growing your own hermie-safe plants/foods like alfalfa, mung beans etc;creating extra levels/areas for the hermies to climb within their enclosure; the garden/nursery as a supermarket; recreating the natural environment of hermit crabs

Radio Interview : ABC Radio:

Newcastle Local Radio

Thursday 26th June 2001

Hermit Crabs as Pets


Interview about Vanessa’s crabarium which included:

Suitability of Hermit Crabs as Pets
How I came to own land hermit crabs as pets
The internet as a means for learning more about unusual interests
Caring for land hermit crabs made easier with the web
Hermies Yahoo!Groups – the online community for hermit crab owners
Importance of environment – heat and humidity for health
Modified gills need to be kept moist in order for land hermit crabs to breathe
Recreating their home in the tropics in captivity
Message about buying hermit crabs from quality pet stores and NOT collecting from the wil