Encyclopedia entries beginning with A:


a Region of the body furthest from the mouth.

b All hermit crabs have a twisted soft abdomen protected by an empty
shell into which the animal can retreat when threatened.

Copyright @ Gary Poore1

Photo by Daethian

c Hermit crabs differ in appearance to other crabs by having an
asymmetrical abdomen (lower body), that is soft. It lacks the hard,
protective exoskeleton (exo + skeleton = external + skeleton) that
covers the rest of its body. 2


1 Poore, G

2 Edgar, G. J. (2000), Australian Marine Life, Reed New Holland.


How Old Is My Hermit Crab?

by Vanessa Pike-Russell?

'How old' is an oft asked question and hard to answer. Lifespan is similar. They both depend on many factors such as diet, exercise, moulting frequency, pecking order, species and availability of seashells. In this article, I will touch on a few of the factors, and finish with some hints on how to get a rough estimate of the size and age of your hermit crab. A big 'thank you' to Carol of CrabWorks? for her permission to use her wonderful photographs, and for being such an inspiration to us all!

How fast a hermit crab grows usually depends on what it eats, drinks and how much it eats and drinks! The growth cycle of a land hermit crab is based on a process known as moulting, which is often triggered by the amount a hermit crab a hermit crab eats and drinks. The body grows within the hard outer skeleton. Just as when we are young and our feet are growing, but the shoes do not. We change our shoes when the tough outer shell (or shoe in this case) no longer fits and constricts about your larger foot. So to do shoes feel uncomfortable when there is fluid retention, such as when travelling or after eating salty foods. Sometimes the shoe 'splits' apart as growing feet stretch the material, causing weak areas (often around glue lines) to come apart.

"Typically premoult animals enter their burrows with their abdomens markedly swollen by food reserves... After moulting the animal eats its exuviae,which contribute organic materials and calcium salts needed for the new skeleton... Very little information is available in regard to moulting of Coenobita. Coenobita clypeatus is reported to hide during the process most of which occurs in the shell (de Wilde, 1973). There is a noticeable reduction in activity for several days prior to the moult and after ecdysis the exuviae are positioned just in front of the mouth of the shell (A.W. Harvey, pers. comm.). During calcification the new soft skeleton of the chelae and other walking legs is moulded to fit the shape of the shell. If the animal increases markedly in size it may no longer fit neatly within the old shell and a rapid trade up in shell size may be necessary to avoid water loss and predators. There is no information available on calcium balance or storage through the moult or on growth increments of Coenobita. Coenobita clypeatus grows up to 500 g if large-enough shells are available" (Greenaway, P. 2003 p. 21)

Land Hermit Crabs that are eating foods high in calcium, fiber, chitin and foods high in nutrients their bodies need will often have a much higher moulting rate; which slows with age or lack of larger seashells. If a crab is in a seashell, which is snug with no alternatives, they will not moult as readily as one with a vast selection.

Photograph of hermit crab climbing up a tree Exercise is known to increase hunger, and thus will affect the rate of moulting. In the wild, land hermit crabs have been known to walk many miles a night, and graze on foods along the way. It would depend on location as to the amount of exercise and grazing a hermit crab will do, but we have to be aware that a hermit crab stuck in a tank will not be as strong and healthy as one which is allowed out of the tank.

A hermit crab can be safely exercised out of the tank within the safety of a plastic crab ball, and allowed to roam and climb more than the height and width of their crabitat. I have watched my larger hermit crabs navigate a crab ball up and down stairs, around obstacles and an increase in skill after problem solving. After such exertion, their appetites increased and the food dish emptied in no time!

Scientist Mike Oesterling of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science has noted this in Blue Crabs.

"In the summer months, food availability has a major affect on shedding activity. If a crab does not satisfy the physiological need to shed (increased muscle tissue, body cavity 'cramping', etc.), it will not enter the molting cycle. In other words, if it doesn't get adequate nutrition it's not going to grow." (Oesterling, M. 2003)

Hermit Crabs are social animals, and as such, there is usually a 'pecking order' among groups or colonies. As with many animals and organisms, when there is a scarcity of resources you will see a 'pecking order' among hermit crabs. The resources most important to hermit crabs being protein and calcium-rich foods and varied diet; hiding spots; space to dig down to moult; different sizes of seashells; water; and salt water (brackish - 50% salinity).

If a crab is 'top crab' than it would get the most food, like with puppies and seagulls. We see this on a small scale within the crabarium, where hermit crabs vie for position in the food bowl or a favourite hiding spot. I have often watched my jumbo hermit crabs fighting for access to the salt-water bowl or Treat dish. It is not unusual for them to fill the bowl completely and keep other hermit crabs away, defending their right to eat first.

Hermit Crabs grow through moulting. If you notice a hermit crab pre and post moult you will see very little difference, but over ten or twenty years it is quite significant. Another way to tell age is to look at the thickness of antennae and the little 'teeth' on the cheliped/grasping claw.

Carol of CrabWorks? has had the same two hermit crabs for twenty-six years. On her photo page, she shows how much they have grown over 25+ years in captivity. Carol believes Jonathon and Kate would have grown more than they have in captivity. Not only are her crabs limited by the size of seashells, their nightly roaming around her sunken living room do not compare with that of their wild counterparts.

In the wild hermies are known to walk miles a day so they would eat more to sustain them. They might not get the yummy foods they eat in captivity, but would snack on the woods and shells etc as well as 'normal' foods like carrion (fruit, fish, meat etc that they find on the beach, among mangroves or on the forest ground).

photograph of juvenile Jon and Kate by Carol Ormes. All Rights Reserced. photograph of juvenile Jon and Kate by Carol Ormes. All Rights Reserced.

Photos are the property of Carol Ormes

Above: Jonathon Livingston Crab and Kate back in 1977, a year after they were purchased at two separate pet stores.
Below: Jonathon and Kate in 1998, eleven years on and a toasty brown colour.

Photo of Jumbo crab Jonathon by Carol Ormes. All Rights Reserced. Photo of jumbo crab Kate by Carol Ormes. All Rights Reserced.

Photo of Jon and Kate by Carol of CrabWorksCarol? feeds her hermit crabs a range of foods, which she believes are similar to what they would come across in the wild. Their favourite is Brown Oak Leaves,

"I usually pick up the fresh brown leaves from a sidewalk, not from the ground. I do inspect them for bugs, mold, and weird spots.
rn There are so many available that choosing is easy".

The leaves could be partly responsible for the wonderful dark chocolate colour of Jonathon and Kate, but that is only the start of the fantastic treats her hermit crabs consume on a regular basis.

For calcium, Carol gives them "boiled eggshells about once a week. They like spinach leaves, a little lettuce, brown oak leaves and boiled or microwaved tree bark (not cedar or pine). They just love bark and oak leaves. These too: bananas, apple slices, scrambled eggs on Saturday, a variety of dry cereals (including Kashi), occasional cookies. I just keep changing and trying new foods. They don't like the same foods too frequently--or even two nights in a row! I do sprinkle sea salt on their food a couple of times per week and am right now trying a little sea salt in a second water dish. I've already seen them drinking it."

When a crab moults, they often regenerate any limbs or body parts that were lost between moults. Often the regenerated limb is often much smaller after the first few moults, until it slowly reaches the size of the lost limb. This is one of the reasons why the size of a hermit crab's cheliped is not always a true indication of a hermit crab's age.

So what is the scientific way to tell how old a hermit crab is?

Sue Fox writes:

"In general, large crabs are older than small crabs. The only way you can accurately estimate your crab's age is if it dies. Then the otoliths, small concretions of mineral deposits, which sit atop the crab's balance organ (located at the base of each antennule), need to be removed. The otoliths can be sectioned and the number of growth rings counted" (Fox, S. 2000)

photo of BFG showing large claw with 'teeth' nodules by Vanessaphoto of Big Red with BFG by Vanessa

In my experience, older crabs have more 'teeth' or knobs on the claw. The photo above is of my hermit crab BigRed?. In the photo (right) you can see a photo of BigRed? and BFG playing next to a tennis ball to indicate their sizes. Another difference is thicker antennae, if they have not been damaged in a moult. Many of my jumbos have very long antennae, which are thick and look much different to the fluttering antennae of younger crabs.

In addition, many of my jumbos have 'setae pores' which are like big bumps on the exo skeleton. To touch them it feels so different to the supple, soft exo of smaller hermies. It is almost like a lobster's shell, in a few places, if that makes sense. Big Friendly Giant, my largest hermit crab, had a very exoskeleton, which felt like a mixture of leather and lobster shell. Strange, but true!

Photo of Big Red by Vanessa Pike-Russell?. All Rights Reserced.

There are also many differences in size between hermit crabs of different species. The largest of all species of land hermit crabs is the Coconut Crab, recently classified as a branch of Coenobitidae (land hermit crab). A stock assessment of coconut crabs was undertaken in Vanuatu during 1994. A report was written by Fletcher, W.J. and Amos, M. in which they found that Coconut crabs "are the largest land-dwelling crustaceans, having been found to attain weights in excess of 5kg. Coconut Crabs are sexually mature at approximately five years of age, at a size of 22-25mm tail length."

Species common to the United States of America really do vary in size, shape and colour. Jonathon and Kate of CrabWorks? are both known colloquially as Purple Pincers, due to the dark purple colour on their 'pincers' or claw. They are often distinguished by their dark colouring, but the eyes of a Purple Pincer are much different to other species, being rather rounded and not compressed as in the 'Ecuadorian', 'Indian' varieties found in pet stores across the country. Sometimes Purple Pincers, which are usually found in Carribean areas, have a rather rich red colouring, as observed in the photo of 'Freebie' by Carolyn below.

Freebie has a colouring similar to that in the Strawberry Land Hermit Crab (Coenobita perlatus). However, Freebie has rounded eyes, whereas C. perlatus usually has a compressed eye, as with the photo of the Australian perlatus variety at right. As you can see, there is quite a difference between the two hermit crabs. Freebie is an example of a C. clypeatus that is labelled as 'red', often confused with C. perlatus.

Pacific hermit crabs(C. compressus), also known as Ecuadorians) found in many areas Ecuadorians are usually smaller than PP's. It is rare to find a large Ecuadorian hermit crab, although we do not really know why. Perhaps it could be in part due to their need for deeper substrate to dig in for moulting, or their intolerance of the cold. Other factors could be related to location and predators, with larger hermit crabs becoming a tasty morsel for animals higher up on the food chain. The photo of Ichabod (right) is very similar to that of rusty, an Australian land hermit crab.

Photo of Ichabod by Maryann Ponte. All Rights Reserced.

Ecuadorian Land Hermit Crab (C. compressus) Australian Land Hermit Crab (C. variabilis)

Their close cousins in Australia (C. variabilis) have similar compressed eyestalks, and the vulnerability to temperature fluctuations, and a preference for a diet high in fruit and nuts. The Australian species can grow up to baseball size in areas of Australia. These 'Jumbo' crabs love to wear a very lightweight shell which is easy for them to carry around. I think the size difference is in part due to their ability to find larger shells and the fact that many areas where land hermit crabs are found are often remote locations with little if no human population or development.

Size and Aggression, Competition for Shells

In the last two years, I have observed over thirty jumbo Australian land hermit crabs, and they really opened my eyes to aggression and social order among colonies of larger hermit crabs. Most of the crabs came straight from the wild, and were in seashells that were ill fitting or broken. Seashell fights were rife and more than a few hermit crabs killed for their shell.

It makes you realise just how important a resource it is, and the reality of 'survival of the fittest'. The faster the hermit crabs changed into a new or different modified seashell protection, the sooner they settled down and established their status within the group.

Many of the Hermit Crabs that had a seashell without any obvious defects remained in the shells for a year or more, even when presented with over a hundred (100) seashells from which to choose. They seemed to favour Tunna shells, Turban shells, Fox shells, whelk shell, and various specimens from the Murex family. Smaller hermit crabs love the Nerite shells, which are found in large proportions along the coast of Australia. Other popular shells are: Thais (rock shells) and Turban shells.

This experience with older, larger hermit crabs helped me to understand why larger hermit crabs were rare in many parts of the world. As it gets harder to find a large shell, hermit crabs must become more aggressive and fight for their survival. If they cannot find a light seashell with sufficient space and watertight properties, they will soon outgrow their current seashell; dehydrate from lack of a fitting seashell; or be attacked. Either way, their chance of survival is limited. This could be why many larger hermit crabs in captivity do not seem to grow much once they reach a certain age. If they could receive a suitable diet, exercise regularly and have a range of suitable seashell sizes and types, they will be more inclined to grow. If they have to remain in the same seashells for years on end, they may experience a stunted growth, restricted by the size or dimensions of their seashell.

When sizing hermit crabs, I usually sort by cheliped (grasping claw) size, with larger claws related to age, but as we discussed earlier, this method isn't very scientific since hermit crabs often loose claws in stressful situations, and they may take some time to return to original size.

So, what is a general rule of thumb to follow?

If you look at the photo galleris of Jonathon and Kate, it shows some baby hermit crabs back in 1977, some rather large to jumbo hermit crabs in 2003. Therefore, we know that Jumbo crabs are at least twenty to thirty (20-30) years of age. Hermit Crabs under a golf ball size would most probably be under ten (10) years of age, and medium size (mandarin size) at least in their twenties (20+). The photo to the left shows the change in size over 25+ years of growth in captivity.

Teeth size, antennae width and texture of the exoskeleton are all indications of age although not very scientific basis for identifying the age of a land hermit crab. Once more, it all depends on the availability of resources, location and species as to determining age.

I guess the important thing is to respect the life of the crabs in our care, and appreciate the sizes they can grow to in the wild. In the grand scheme of things, is it really that important to know their age? Of course not, but it is awe-inspiring to see a jumbo crab, and know that he or she is most probably older than you are!

Photo Credits:

Carol Ormes. CrabWorks? Photos and Sounds Gallery

Maryanne Ponte's Photo Gallery

University of Massachusetts Amhurst: Biology 497H - Tropical Field Biology.
St. John, USVI March 16, 2001 to March 25, 2001 Photo Gallery

Vanessa's Photo Gallery on


Carol Ormes. Spotlight on Carol of CrabWorks?

Fletcher,W.J. and Amos, M. 1994 Stock Assessment of Coconut Crabs. ACIAR Monograph No.29 32p
Mike Oesterling of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. Quote relates to blue crabs.

Fletcher, W.J., Brown, I.W., Fielder, D.R., and Obed, A. 1991b. Moulting and growth characteristics. Pp. 35-60 in: Brown,I.W., and Fielder, D.R. (eds), The coconut crab: aspects of Birgus latro biology and ecology in Vanuatu. Canberra, Aciar Monographs 8.

Fox, S. (2000) Hermit Crabs : A Complete Owner's Guide. pp. 27. Barrons Books : NY

Greenaway, P. 2003. Terrestrial adaptations in the Anomura (Crustacea: Decapoda).
In: Lemaitre, R., and Tudge, C.C. (eds), Biology of the Anomura. Proceedings of a symposium at the Fifth International Crustacean Congress, Melbourne, Australia, 9-13 July 2001. Memoirs of Museum Victoria 60(1): 13-26.

Greenaway, P. 1985. Calcium balance and moulting in the Crustacea.
Biological Reviews 60: 425-454. Herreid, C.F. 1969b. Integument permeability of crabs and adaptation

Grubb, P. 1971. Ecology of terrestrial decapod crustaceans on Aldabra.
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B 260:

Held, E.E. 1965. Moulting behaviour of Birgus latro. Nature (London)
rn 200: 799-800.

Osterling, M. Moulting and the Full Moon. Online article" rel="external">URL


Behaviour in the Wild

Land hermit crabs are territorial animals, and as such they will often act aggressively towards one another to establish a 'pecking' order among their colony. Sometimes this can be in the form of 'feeler' or antennae fights, others in violent pushing or flicking fellow tank mates out of the way. Usually this is not serious enough to warrant intervention. However, some hermit crabs will act in a manner that is harmful to other hermit crabs, often trying to pull their hermie buddy out of a desired shell, or attacking eyes, antennae, claws, legs or abdomen.

If you witness behaviour that may be harmful to one or more hermit crabs, it is important to separate them until the aggressor has setled down. Sometimes tank aggression can be a precursor to a moult, or the result of being picked on or bullied in the past. The most common form of aggression is where one crab tries to pull their tank-mate out of the security of the seashell.

Handling with Respect and Gentleness

It shouldn't be forgotten that hermit crabs are not toys, but living animals. It is important to pick them up gently, carefully and talking softly to them to let them know that they are safe is often a good idea. Use slow and gentle movements and always remember to carry them steadily. If you were placed on a palm and thought you were going to tumble off the edge, what would you do? A hermit crab doesn't have hands with fingers, it has claws and legs. In order to save itself it will grip on with what it has available, so remember to help your buddy know he is safe from harm and put yourself in the place of the hermit crab at all times. A hermit crab treated with respect and gentlness will be gentle. A hermit crab that is handled roughly and with anger or haste will soon let you know that he can be just as crabby!


In the wild a hermit crab will "throw" a claw or leg if another hermit crab tries to pull them out of their shell. This is a responsive behaviour and their limbs are built in a way that they are able to "drop" or "throw" a limb easily so they may survive an attack. This is called Autotomy.

Normal Behaviour

Tumble Time

You may see your hermit crabs climb over the top of each other, or perhaps flick each other out of a prized spot or corner. This is natural behaviour, and doesn't normally harm your hermit crabs. You may have watched puppies or kittens playing and vying for the best spot near Mummy dog, 'rough-housing' and play fighting. The flicking and tumbling another hermit crab out of the way is just in the nature of the territorial hermit crab and helps to establish 'pecking order' amongst hermit crabs.

Stridulation (Chirping or croaking)

I was doing some reading of my "Biology of the Land Crabs' book today and came across a chapter on stridulation behaviour in land crabs. Of specific interest was a paragraph on Coenobita:

"Stridulation in conjunction with posturing is common in aggressive displays of Coenobita (Hazlett, 1966; S. Gilchrist, unpub). Clicking by rapping of appendages together and by tapping the shell are integral parts of aggressive encounters of C. clypeatus and C. compressus. When alarmed, Birgus latro briskly stamps the second peripods. At other times, even when not apparently alarmed, this crab produces continuous clicks (Grubb, 1971). This may be a proximity warning to con-specifics."

Dunham, D. W., and S. L. Gilchrist. 1988. Behavior. Pp. 97-138 in Biology of the Land Crabs, W. W. Burggren and B. R. McMahon?, eds. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

I have other refrences which I will dig up (literally, its all in storage) and share. From personal experience my hermit crabs mainly chirp when there is another crab bullying them. Prime example was when I heard 'rheet rheet rheet' and went over to the tank, saw one crab over the top of another one and trying to pull the poor crab out of its shell! I'd be making a lot of noise too! Some crabs have chirped or croaked when being picked up, but very rarely. It reminds me of a car alarm - sometimes its a false alarm, other times it means something is wrong.

Photo by CrazySean?

Antennae Fencing

Another thing that hermit crabs like to do is to go up to each other and have a hermie 'antennae/feeler wiggling and touching' encounter.

You might see the antennae moving quickly, and brusihng against the antennae of the other hermit crab.

This may take a few minutes to die down, and either crab lose interest. Sometimes it is almost as if they are talking in code, giving signals to each other.

As long as they are not hurting each other, it is often best to let them interact and develop their social skills with other land hermit crabs.

Cautionary Behaviour

Cheliped Clashes

Sometimes they may even brush cheliped, grasping claw, against each other. IF this progresses into an entirely aggressive act, such as trying to sever antennae, limbs, eye stalks or removing the other hermit crab from its shell, THEN it is time to 'break it up'.

Shell-based Aggression
Example Shell Swap Behaviour:

Animation by Matthew Turnbull and Vanessa Pike-RussellWhen? one crab likes another's shell, say Crab A likes Crab B's shell, Crab A will go up to Crab B's shell, knock its shell ( that of Crab A) against the other crab's shell (Crab B), causing the crab in the desired shell (Crab B) to come out and have a look at what is going on. Now the first crab will try to pull the second crab out of its shell by a cheliped or other limb. The second crab will normally drop his cheliped(grasping claw) or leg/s and retreat inside his shell, using his remaining cheliped to protect himself. Preferring to loose a limb instead of loosing a shell.

If there is a shell involved, it often helps if you place the attacker into a container with a number of suitable shells in different sizes, shapes and weights. It could well be that your hermit is crabby because his shell is too small. Imagine if you had to wear shoes two sizes small or large for you, and you were stuck in a glass tank and not able to go shopping to find a new one. What else could you do, but fight for the best shells with your tank mate. Remove the source of the aggression, and you will have relative peace and happiness in your crabarium.

Deadly Behaviour

If you don't remove the cause of the stress, you may just find that your overly stressed and crabby companion has ripped another hermit crab out of its shell, or viciously attacked it. If this happens, it is time to re-evaluate your crabitat and seashell collection, but first isolate the aggressive hermit crab and give it somewhere comfortable, equipped and containing an area it can retreat within darkness.

Somewhere Dark and Private

It is important that you have several spots within your tank for your hermit crabs to retreat within to escape the stress of life in captivity, mostly in partial darkness or protection from other hermit crabs. The most popular forms of tank decorations that meet this need are the Rock Caves, Coconut Huts, Hideout Dens, Terracotta (clean) flower pots, and more. Just like reptiles and many other animals, hermit crabs will be significantly less stressed if they believe they are protected from predators and allowed some cover of darkness.

Some Strategies

Over the past seven years I have had a handful of hermit crabs that were dangerously aggressive to their tank mates, and each time the best remedy was:

1. isolation
2. dark and private, quiet
3. access to more seashells
4. slowly building up a sense of trust with the hermit crab, through talking and treats
5. observing the hermit crab with others at bath time or on supervised visits to the crabarium
6. if there is still a problem, re-organising the crabarium and allowing all the hermit crabs to play outside of the crabitat for a while in neutral territory (such as the weekly buffet container).
7. rotate the seashells within the tank, so that the hermit crabs think they are getting new shells, so they will check each out — which may spark a vacancy chain massive seashell swap.

Larger Crabitats = More Space + Less Stress

Photo by Crazy Sean If you are still having problems then it may help if you separate the crabs into two tanks, or upsize to a larger tank if needed, with a barrier. Most of the time people use a 10Gallon or 20Gallon LONG tank, which has very limited surface area. If you buy a larger tank, perhaps get one custom made. It is often cheaper due to the thinner base — no need to have the thickness due to heaviness of water in fish tanks. If you can't afford this, it might help if you exercise your hermit crabs in a large, clean storage tub or other plastic container for a few hours a day (weather permitting).

Hopefully this primer on aggression has been of use to you. Why not tell a friend about this website?


Dunham, D. W., and S. L. Gilchrist. 1988. Behavior. Pp. 97-138 in Biology of the Land Crabs, W. W. Burggren and B. R. McMahon?, eds. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Image References:

Photos of Coenobita perlatus by Crazy Sean

Photos of Coenobita variabilis by Vanessa Pike-Russell?

Animation of shell change by Matthew Turnbull and Vanessa Pike-Russell?


Though alfalfa is generally grown for fodder, the seeds are also
sprouted for human consumption. Alfalfa sprouts are popular in salads
and on sandwiches. See also SPROUTS.

© Copyright Barron's Educational Services, Inc. 1995 based on THE FOOD LOVER'S COMPANION, 2nd edition, by Sharon Tyler Herbst.


The kernel of the fruit of the almond tree, grown extensively in California, the Mediterranean, Australia and South Africa. There are two main types of almonds-sweet and bitter. The flavor of sweet almonds is delicate and slightly sweet. They're readily available in markets and, unless otherwise indicated, are the variety used in recipes. The more strongly flavored bitter almonds contain traces of lethal prussic acid when raw. Though the acid's toxicity is destroyed when the nuts are heated, the sale of bitter almonds is illegal in the United States. Processed bitter almonds are used to flavor extracts, LIQUEURS and ORGEAT SYRUP. The kernels of apricot and peach pits have a similar flavor and the same toxic effect (destroyed by heating) as bitter almonds. Almonds are available blanched or not, whole, sliced, chopped, candied, smoked, in paste form and in many flavors. Toasting almonds before using in recipes intensifies their flavor and adds crunch. Almonds are a nutritional powerhouse, packed with calcium, fiber, folic acid, magnesium, potassium, riboflavin and vitamin E. See also ALMOND EXTRACT; ALMOND OIL; ALMOND PASTE; JORDAN ALMOND; NUTS.

© Copyright Barron's Educational Services, Inc. 1995 based on THE FOOD LOVER'S COMPANION, 2nd edition, by Sharon Tyler Herbst.


AM-ah-ranth Once considered a simple weed in the United States, this nutritious annual is finally being acknowledged as the nourishing high-protein food it is. Amaranth greens have a delicious, slightly sweet flavor and can be used both in cooking and for salads. The seeds are used as cereal or can be ground into flour for bread. Amaranth seeds and flour can be found in health-food stores, as well as in some Caribbean and Asian markets.

© Copyright Barron's Educational Services, Inc. 1995 based on THE FOOD LOVER'S COMPANION, 2nd edition, by Sharon Tyler Herbst.


Antennae: sense organs also known as 'feelers' help the hermit crab smell and taste. A hermit crab has two pairs of anteannae at the front of their head, with two being long and two being short. The long pair are called antennas and the short pair antennules. Antennas are used to touch and sense other hermit crabs and objects.The antennules are what a hermit crab uses to smell and taste.


Antennule : a small antenna, esp. one of the foremost pair of a crustacean


Substances that inhibit oxidation in plant and animal cells. Culinarily, antioxidants help prevent food from becoming rancid or discolored. In the body, many scientists believe that antioxidants may contribute to reducing cancer and heart disease. Ascorbic acid (vitamin C), which is easily obtained from citrus fruits, is a well known natural antioxidant, as is vitamin E, which is plentiful in seeds and nuts. Antioxidants are also abundant in CRUCIFEROUS VEGETABLES such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts.

© Copyright Barron's Educational Services, Inc. 1995 based on THE FOOD LOVER'S COMPANION, 2nd edition, by Sharon Tyler Herbst.


Anus: excretory opening. Located at the end of the hermit crab's abdomen


Appendages : an external body part that projects from the body


Grown in temperate zones throughout the world and cultivated for at least 3,000 years, apple varieties now number well into the thousands. Apples range in color from lemony yellow to bright yellow-green to crimson red. Their textures range from tender to crisp, their flavors from sweet to tart and from simple to complex. They're available year-round but are at their best from September through November when newly harvested. Buy firm, well-colored apples with a fresh (never musty) fragrance. The skins should be smooth and free of bruises and gouges. SCALD (a dry, tan- or brown-colored area on the skin of an apple) doesn't usually affect its flavor. Apples come 2 to 4 per pound, depending on size. For cooking and baking, use apples that will remain flavorful and firm, such as BALDWIN, CORTLAND, NORTHERN SPY, ROME BEAUTY, WINESAP and YORK IMPERIAL. Store apples in a cool, dark place. They do well placed in a plastic bag and stored in the refrigerator. Apples are a good source of vitamins A and C. See also CANDIED APPLE; CASHEW APPLE; CRABAPPLE; CRITERION; GOLDEN DELICIOUS; GRANNY SMITH; GRAVENSTEIN; JONATHAN; LADY; MACOUN; MAY; MCINTOSH; NEWTON PIPPIN; RED DELICIOUS; RHODE ISLAND GREENING; STAYMAN.

© Copyright Barron's Educational Services, Inc. 1995 based on THE FOOD LOVER'S COMPANION, 2nd edition, by Sharon Tyler Herbst.


Note: Feed only the fruit, not the leaves or other part of the apricot


This fruit of ancient lineage has been grown in China for over 4,000 years. It now thrives in most temperate climates, with California producing about 90 percent of the American crop. A relative of the peach, the apricot is smaller and has a smooth, oval pit that falls out easily when the fruit is halved. Throughout the world there are many varieties of apricot, including Riland, Tilton, Blenheim, Royal and Chinese. In color, the skin can range anywhere from pale yellow to deep burnt orange; the flesh from a golden cream color to brilliant orange. Because they're highly perishable and seasonal, 90 percent of the fresh apricots are marketed in June and July. When buying apricots, select plump, reasonably firm fruit with a uniform color. Store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 3 to 5 days. Depending on size, there are 8 to 12 apricots per pound. Dried apricots are pitted, unpeeled apricot halves that have had a large percentage of the moisture removed. They're usually treated with sulfur dioxide to preserve their color. In addition to being rich in vitamin A, dried apricots are a valuable source of iron and calcium. The kernels of the apricot pits are used in confections and to flavor LIQUEURS. Like bitter almonds, apricot kernels are poisonous until roasted.

© Copyright Barron's Educational Services, Inc. 1995 based on THE FOOD LOVER'S COMPANION, 2nd edition, by Sharon Tyler Herbst.


Atoll: (Pronounced a-tahl). Type of island that is formed when the top of an underwater volcano that was once above the water sinks below the surface, leaving only the coral reef and sandbars in a ring around a lagoon.

Australian Land Hermit Crab

Common Name: Australian Land Hermit Crab

Other Names: also known as "Crazy Crab", "Happy Hermits"

Description: The carapace and the clawed legs lack distinct spines. The eyestalks are compressed from side to side. The stalks (peduncles) of the antennules are very long but the feelers (flagella) are short and compressed from side to side. These crabs reach a carapace length of 40 mm.

Cream or pale brown, with some variable darker brown markings, on the shield and on the legs.

Sexes: Males and females differ only in the position of the gonopores

Habitat: Occuring intertidally and higher up, above tide levels, up to 100m or so from the beach. These crabs are most common near mangroves but they also occur on sand and rocky beaches.

Distribution: Northern Australia, from Exmouth Gulf to North Queensland.

Notes: Large numbers of C. Variabilis can be found behind mangroves, sheltering from the heat of the day under rocks or logs. They are very active nocturnal scavengers. The crabs are especially attracted to decaying material, such as dead fish on the beach, and even to the household garbage and pet's feeding bowls. They are also sold commercially as household pets, usually under the name of 'crazy crabs'.

References: Jones, S. and Morgan, G.J. (1994) "A Field Guide to Crustaceans of Australian Waters".

Western Australian Museum. Chatswood, N.S.W. (Australia) : Reed Books, 1994.
ISBN 0 7301 0403 6


Autotomy: also called Self-amputation, the ability of certain animals to release part of the body that has been grasped by an external agent

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WhizKidsMom, 17:28 CST, Tue 01 of Jan., 2013: Happy 2013
ladybug15057, 15:37 CDT, Tue 19 of June, 2012: How time flies! June 17th was our 12 year hermit crab anniversary! Yepper, same hermit crabs too!!
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