Well, I figured it would be nice to let the readers of this blog know a little more about it’s author, so here’s a little entry about a few of my hobbies at home. I have many hobbies, but I’ll only highlight two or three here.
I’ve always been a fan of gardening, and once I moved into an apartment an outdoor garden wasn’t optional. So, I was left with a windowsill in my bedroom.
My favorite plants are succulents, especially Sempervivums. I find them to be aesthetically pleasing for some reason, and they remind me a little of candies. Some of the cultivars have very bright colors reminiscent of sunsets.
The plants I currently have are pictured below.
In the trough container are Sedum Pachyphyllum, Echeveria Mazarine, and Crassula Ovata ‘Hobbit’. In the next pot is a Jade plant (Crassula Argentea). In the terracotta pot is Sempervivum Aquarius. The one on my nightstand out of direct sun is Gasteria lilputana ‘Ox-Tongue’. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong about any of the names.
Recently had a problem with mealy bugs with the Jade plant and another unlabeled cultivar I bought with it. I lost the unlabeled one, but the regular Jade has pulled through. I had to pinch off more than a few leaves, and it may have even dropped a few from stress. While it is currently sparse in foliage, I have hope that it will regenerate and grow larger.
Along with the mealy bugs came the added issue of ants. The ants, being attracted to the sweet honeydew (or aphid scat), decided to invade and pillage. My parrot’s cage is right next to the window, so not only did they swarm the plants, they found her food. Worried, I did several online searches, and tried almost every home remedy to repel or outright kill the ants.
I have to use pet safe things around my parrot, because a bird is affected a lot more by chemicals than mammals.
I ended up using Terro liquid ant killer. It works. It’s odorless, and as long as it’s out of reach, it is pretty pet safe. I recommend it if you have an indoor ant problem.
Land Hermit Crabs
Another hobby of mine is keeping land hermit crabs. Their care is a little more detailed than any pet store is likely to tell you, but if you’re a fan of crustaceans, or terrarium critters in general, you may like these little guys.
A wealth of knowledge and help can be found here.
I currently have four small but growing crabs in a 30-gallon tank. There are about six inches of moist sand for the crabs to burrow and molt in. There are several fake plants, rocks, and a terracotta pot placed in there for hiding spots and climbing.
I keep the tank pretty humid, usually in the 70-80% range. This humidity allows them to breathe through a set of modified gills. LHC’s start life in the sea as zoae, and after a certain amount of molts they venture onto land to live the rest of their lives. They feed on detritus washed ashore, fruit, vegetation, and even human refuse in the wild. They often gather in large troops to search for food. They are very social, and often prefer company to being alone. Therefore, they do best when kept in groups in captivity.
The abdomen of a LHC is almost never seen, because it’s hidden by the shell they wear. They wear the discarded shells of other animals to protect the soft abdomen, which has no tough exoskeleton like the other half of the body. As they grow in size, they must find a new, larger shell to accommodate their bodies. As a keeper of LHC’s, extra shells of differing sizes must be provided in the habitat. By doing so, you may end up sneaking a peek at them changing shells.
Another important part of providing for these guys is having both fresh and saltwater available. I do this by having two small plastic tubs in the tank. One has fresh water, and the other has saltwater made using a salt mix reef keepers use for marine tanks. All my water is dechlorinated to protect the LHC’s from the chemicals in our drinking water.
LHC’s aren’t true crabs, since they are more related to the shrimp and lobster families. This is somewhat evident in their overall anatomy, if looked at closely.
The idea that these are throwaway pets permeates a large percentage of the public, but this isn’t true. If given the right care and husbandry, LHC’s can live for quite some time. I know of other hobbyists who have had theirs for 10 years or more. There is even a case of one woman who’s had hers for 33 years, and they are softball sized and still active.
Within the hobby, no one as of yet has managed to produce captive offspring. The process would be quite challenging, but at some point in the future it may be done.
After having them for over a year, I have to admit that their little eyestalks get to me. They are mostly nocturnal, and sometimes hearing a shell tap against the glass at night lets me know they’re still active and healthy. Each one seems to have its own set of traits, not just color wise, but behaviorally. It’s fascinating to watch them interact with each other, and their environment.
They are known to steal morsels of food away from the food dish, and carry it away to a hiding place. Sometimes they even make a croaking sound when either stressed or when calling to another crab.
These guys are more social than one might think. I once had a pair of crabs that were food buddies. When one was sleeping up on a branch in the tank, the other would climb up there and to check on him and then they’d both finally climb back down to eat dinner.
The four I have now have distinct behavior characteristics, and I’ve tried to name them accordingly. You’ll have to forgive the bad image quality. These guys are hard to get pics of with an old digi-cam.
This little punk is the only LHC to nearly pinch me, so he got a name befitting his attempt.
This one is always climbing, and managing to sandwich itself into tight places. Apparently, not afraid to take risks.
This guy/girl is missing a feeding claw. I’m not sure how it happened, but it should be able to regrow the limb. This one seems a little shy.
I like the name Oliver. This poor crab fell, yes fell, out of its shell when I picked it up while doing tank maintenance. So, I had to put this crab with the naked shrimp-butt in a container with the discarded shell in the hopes that it would put it back on. It did, but I had to keep an eye on things for a while to make sure it was okay.
Well, there you go. Now you know some of my ridiculous hobbies, and that I’m a bit of a nerd.
In upcoming posts I plan to write about some more in depth topics, such as biology, science, some of my own theories/speculations, and the creative process that I go into creating an alien species. Stay tuned, and feel free to chime in with your thoughts!