I remember quite clearly the day the allergist came back with the news that both of my older children were allergic to both cats and dogs.
I was thrilled.
Not that I don’t love a cute puppy as much as the next person, but what I don’t love is hair everywhere, expensive medical bills that arent for a human, and poop. I hate poop.
Anyway, that said, I was so glad that I could just use my kid’s health as an excuse when the subject of a pet came up. But recently we’d reached a near fever pitch in the “we want a pet” department, so I was pretty excited when one of our neighbors mentioned they were going out of town for a week and I knew they had some fish and a cat that would need to be kept alive! What could be better than to be pet parents for a week and then return to normal?! Plus said neighbors had a pool and since the week they were gone the temps here in San Antonio reached plus or minus 1 trillion- I WAS ALL IN.
And so a wonderful week passed where my kids got to pet and feed a cat ( of course, *I* took care of the litter box…) and look at pretty little fishes. And I got to float in a pool. Tabitha only broke out in hives once because we’d forgotten to give her allergy medicine before going over…but other than that: Awesomeness.
In fact, maybe there was too much awesomeness. When my neighbor texted saying that she’d found some hermit crabs at the beach and she’d like to give them to my kids as a “thank you” for feeding her animals, I was blinded. Blinded by the thought that my kids probably DID need a pet!!
And I mean, they’re crabs how hard could it be? And how much trouble could it be?!
First of all, according to the internet, they needed a place where they could live the most “fulfilled life possible” ( aka a large 10-gallon tank for two hermit crabs ( cha-ching! went the cash register!). I watched Youtube videos about what sort of environs were the best for the little guys. They need special mulch that they can burrow into, not too soft, not too hard….you know what, on second, thought-just buy the stuff that has ‘hermit crab’ written on the side ( cha-ching!). They also need sand too…I don’t remember *why* exactly they needed two different types of earth- but we’ll just assume it had something to do with “quality of life”…and while we’re on that topic, they also need a fake ( or alive) plant to play in ( cha-ching!) and something to hide under and something to climb ( cha-ching, cha-ching!)…and speaking of living environment- hermit crabs need extra shells to move into (cha-ching) in various sizes (cha-ching, cha-ching)…. I also learned they needed fresh water ( BUT DONT YOU DARE GIVE IT TO THEM FROM THE TAP! YOU MURDERER!) the water has to be treated with water conditioner ( cha-ching!) and they need salt water! ( DONT GIVE THEM SALT WATER MADE WITH TABLE SALT OR SOMETHING, YOU IDIOT!) it needs to be made from a special formula that you can purchase! ( cha-ching!)- Now, once you have the two waters make sure you don’t put it in a too-shallow dish, OR a too-deep dish or a dish that’s made from metal! ( they are allergic)…nevermind….just buy the ones especially for hermit crabs( cha-ching!).
By the end of the list I was exhausted and overwhelmed, but by this point I had two hermit crabs in a small Tupperware waiting on me (that’s right, I didn’t think to research this endeavor until our neighbor had already brought the creatures to my house, what can I say, I had stuff to do keeping 3 kids alive!). So early the next morning, I piled my kids in the car and we made our maiden voyage to Petsmart. I’m pretty sure when you go through the sliding doors at that place it made that exact “cha-ching” sound that I’d been hearing when I made my hermit-crab-needs-list. It. was. overwhelming.
And sure enough, I dropped a small fortune on those two hermit crabs. It physically hurt. It was so much money. I don’t want to tell you how much because surely your opinion of me would drop tremendously. But let’s just say that I wanted to cut and run and tell my kids I wanted them to go to college one day and that this money would pay for the first semester ( just kidding, it wasn’t that much- but. it. might. has. well. have. been). But my three adorable kids looked up at me with so much excitement about finally having a pet that I just zipped my credit card through the credit card machine and we were in business.
We moved the hermit crabs into their new home after having had them in our house for about 12 hours. I had read online that they might not move a lot at the beginning with all the adjustments needing to be made- but one hermit crab ( dubbed “Snappers” by Ransom) seemed excited and he crawled all around the tank. I felt validated ( but only a smidge) that he liked his variety of ground coverings and the water offerings. Tiny Jr ( named by Tabitha), on the other hand, retreated into his shell and seemed to need that “adjustment period” the internet referred to. My kids spent the day periodically running to the cage to let us know how they were doing.
“Snappers moved behind the fake plant!”
“Tiny Jr. still hasn’t moved!!”
As we went to bed, I was relieved to see that Tiny Jr. had moved a little bit so hopefully he was settling in. And I hoped that they would eventually touch their food ( it seems they didn’t like the special hermit crab food ( cha-ching) I had purchased for them, OR the red pepper that I had read was a “special treat”) and that maybe being partially nocturnal meant they’d wait to eat that night…
Day 2 of being pet owners dawned bright and early and everyone ran to the hermit crab habitat. ( Ok, I didn’t run. I walked there slowly after getting coffee) It seemed that Snappers Jr. was doing Ok. Even though it seemed the hermit crabs hadn’t even touched their food (foreshadowing!). Snappers was moving around still. He retreated when Ransom tapped on the glass. He was sitting close to Tiny Jr.’s shell (Also foreshadowing!) but he moved to his favored back corner. Wait….where was Tiny Jr.?!? I looked under the fake rock…I looked in the other shells we had generously purchased for them to move into…but nothing. no where.
I played it off. I told Tabitha he was “deep inside his shell”…but I was confused. WHERE DID HE GO!?!? Maybe he HAD gone deep inside the shell to die or something? I couldn’t figure it out…
But my concerns for Tiny Jr. faded, when a few hours later Ransom discovered that Snappers had died. Sure enough he was hanging limply out of his shell. Motionless. Dead.
SO SO GROSS.
There were tears. I took this opportunity to break it to Tabitha that Tiny Jr. was also dead ( but, seriously, where did he go?!?). And the wailing that occurred was very much on par with anyone who had deeply, deeply bonded with a small crustation. It was intense. It was not overly dramatic at all. It reminded me of the time I literally ran outside and ran around my house when an otter died in a Disney movie in the late 80s. It was a lot like that.
Anyway. You guys. The story isn’t over!
The next day when I tried to cut and run and thereby sell my hermit crab STUFF on facebook I learned the sad, sad truth behind Tiny Jr. ‘s disappearance. Apparently, according to one of my facebook friends, hermit crabs EAT. EACH. OTHER.
And so, it all became very clear, that Snappers had snacked on Tiny Jr. and then died shortly after because IT IS NOT RIGHT FOR GOD’S CREATURES TO EAT EACH OTHER. And then Snappers was clearly struck down for his ungodly act.
In other news, I’m selling hermit crab equipment. Here it is: Best offer will be taken. I’ll throw in 3 children who are allergic to animals as part of the deal.