Most species of hermit crabs have long and curved abdomens. The tip of the abdomen is adapted to clasp strongly onto the pillar of a shell, allowing them to protect themselves from predators.
There are two species of hermit crabs within Galapagos, the semi-terrestrial and the Galapagos hermit crab. The semi-terrestrial hermit crab is light brown. Its external parts, head, claws and legs are laterally compressed – meaning from a side perspective, the hermit appears normal, but from vertically above, they appear quite narrow. The Galapagos hermit crab, on the other hand, is a dark brown-to-black colour with red-edged appendages.
There can be forceful competition among hermit crabs for shells. They may fight or kill a competitor to gain access to the shell they favour. However, if the crabs vary significantly in size, the chances of combat decrease or remain absent.
Where to see them: Widespread around the Archipelago, mostly found on rocks in the intertidal zones.
When to see them: Hermit crabs thrive on the shore line. A rocky habitat gives them plenty of places to hide when the tide goes out during all times of the year.
Threats: Due to their small size, hermit crabs have numerous natural predators all around the Archipelago, including fish, cuttlefish, squid and octopuses. As many hermit crabs live along the rocky beaches, they can be an easy target for birds. The flying predators simply pluck them right off the ground. They are also at risk from marine plastic pollution, which poses a risk to a range of marine life in Galapagos.
Conservation action: There are currently no projects specifically focused on the conservation of the Galapagos hermit crab. Hermit crabs have, however, been found moving into plastic bottle caps instead of shells in Galapagos. Our Plastic Programme aims to make the Galapagos Archipelago plastic pollution free once again. Check out Grupo Eco Cultaral Organizado’s work to prevent bottle caps entering the ocean.
Please help protect species like the hermit crab by donating to our Plastic Programme today!