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Little Bites 7

Someone just asked me my favourite author, and it just occurred to me that I don’t have favourite authors insomuch as I have favourite characters and I’m willing to follow them anywhere, through any series.  I can’t think of one person that I would literally read anything they wrote beyond Josh.

I love Harry Potter, and I’d follow him or some of the other characters through a new series.  But if JK Rowling started writing books set during the Civil War, I can’t say that I’d follow along (nothing against the Civil War; it’s just not my cup of tea time-period-wise).  I like Neil Gaiman, but there are a bunch of books I’m currently avoiding because the plotline doesn’t interest me even though I know in his capable hands, he’d probably make me interested if I could just leap past the first few pages.

I also don’t have a favourite musician.  I can’t think of any musician where I own everything they’ve done.  I tend to wax and wane through a musician’s career — even the bands I love the most tend to have whole albums here and there that don’t interest me.  I also don’t have a favourite actor.  I can’t think of any actor that I would follow into any movie regardless of plot. (Again, sorry anyone who makes films set during the Civil War.)

Just me?  Is there any fine artist (writer, musician, actor) you would follow through to any place and back without a moment’s thought?  Or are you more tied to characters and particular albums?


I feel like I always sound old when I use the term “album.”  That’s probably not the correct word anymore.  Or is it?  Will albums always be albums regardless of the medium (record, CD, digital download) used?


We are getting a pet hermit crab this week unless y’all talk me out of it.  I have agreed to this because it seems like a good starter pet for two children who claim they’re going to feed and love a guinea pig but have a terrible track record of follow-through.  We’ll start with a hermit crab and work our way up to things with fur.

But it occurred to me after I agreed to the hermit crab that I have no idea how to care for a hermit crab.  Do they need a companion?  Live better alone?  What do they eat?  And… er… how long do they live?

So I Google hermit crab care and found not only a handful of websites where people have an intense (I am talking INTENSE) love of hermit crabs, but also some fairly scary facts such as the fact that pet hermit crabs can live easily to 25 years (those not in captivity can live longer).  This doesn’t sounds correct.  I don’t know anyone who is still caring for a hermit crab after their children leave for college.

I don’t want to sound cold and I certainly don’t want a dead hermit crab on my hands, but I also don’t know how I feel about caring for a hermit crab when I’m in my sixties.  Can you imagine me leaving the mah jongg table because I have to get back to the hermit crab?

So, um, could anyone give me any insight on hermit crabs as pets.  What they eat, what they’re like, and er… how long they live?


1 Heather { 07.03.11 at 8:59 am }

I know what you mean. I used to love Anne Rice novels, but in particular, I loved her Vampire Chronicles, which followed the Vampire Lestat. I loved that character! He introduced me to a few other characters I could really like, but it was based on his interactions with them that I got to know them. I’ve tried reading some of her other books, and it just wasn’t the same. I couldn’t get into them.

2 Bea { 07.03.11 at 9:10 am }

Yeah, don’t. I believe the 25 years thing and I suspect it’s more like 6 months where young children are concerned, and all down to incorrect husbandry.

Go with your strengths, go with what you know. Ask yourself why the traditional pets earnt their place as such and wonder seriously whether you’ve got the commitment to be some weird-arse enthusiast on some other species that only a weird-arse enthusiast would put the correct time and effort into.

Go with something *you* like not what the kids like, because kids have such a horrendous record on follow through that getting anything that lives for more than about three months that you’re not prepared to take care of yourself is ethically dicey. In other words, it’s great for kids to have pets around and I am very much in favour, but it tends to work best for the animal if they’re everyone’s pets, rather than the kids’ pets.

And if that all sounds scary – and it can often be – consider becoming a pet foster carer instead of an owner, at least til you figure out how it would all hang together. That’s my professional advice on pet ownership and children.


3 HereWeGoAJen { 07.03.11 at 9:57 am }

Get a fish. I like fish for their shortish lifespans and also the ability to find identical replacement fish fairly easily. (I had one day where I took our classroom fish “to the vet” and when he got back, he was slightly smaller and a bit lighter blue.)

I have no experience with hermit crabs except that there was a tank of them in the next classroom over at my daycare and I don’t remember any of them dying while I worked there. I suppose if you do end up still having hermit crabs when the twins go to college you could either find some other children somewhere else or just make the twins take them to college with them.

Isn’t it funny how somewhere on the internet there is someone obsessed with EVERYTHING you can think of?

4 Gabrielle { 07.03.11 at 1:34 pm }

Hermit Crabs.. yuck. I had several hermit crabs when I was around 7 or 8. All of them died. I don’t think you need to worry about one living 25 years. I can recall asking the pet store owner why I never saw my hermit crab move around. He said it was because they were mostly nocturnal (I have no idea if that is true, them being nocturnal), but eventually the smell made me realize that it had probably not moved because it was dead.
I say go with the fish. Like HereWeGoAJen said, they can be replaced with a fish that looks almost identical. We’ve done the switch-er-roo with my stepdaughter’s fish’ several times over the years. Sometimes that’s easier then telling them that you killed their fish while they were away. On a positive note, I do have dogs that have lived and are still going strong like puppies at the ripe old age of 13 years.

5 Queenie { 07.03.11 at 1:47 pm }

Ditto on books and music.

I always had furry pets, and never the slimy ones that had tanks that needed cleaning (fish, crabs, snakes, etc.). I cannot even imagine having a yucky crab in my house as a pet. Get a cat!

6 a { 07.03.11 at 3:22 pm }

Might as well pick a pet that you want, as you will end up having the sole responsibility. Hermit crabs die on a regular basis at my daughter’s daycare.

I don’t have a favorite author or band either. I don’t necessarily follow characters, though. I tend to follow authors and bands, although I don’t always like their work. I just can’t settle on one forever.

7 JustHeather { 07.03.11 at 6:04 pm }

Never had hermit crabs, except for the ones we played with at the beach. But I do like and agree with getting a pet that you as a family like.

As for favorites, I’m a bit wishy-washy on who I like, but there are a few that I have stuck by throughout the years: Favorite character(s) are Jamie & Claire Fraser.
Favorite author is/was Anne Rice until she started her newest series of Christ books. Up to that point, I had read all her books and all short stories I could find.
Favorite band/musician: Red Hot Chili Peppers/Anthony Kiedis (loved his book, Scar Tissue also). Although there is an album or two that I don’t care for as much as the rest.
As for the rest of “favorites”, most of them depend on my mood. Especially music. I can love a song or two from one person/group and not the rest of their stuff.

8 Emily (Apron Strings) { 07.03.11 at 6:35 pm }

Well, I must admit … I am a music lover, yet there are few bands/musicians that I will make sure I’d get every single album.

Which btw … I *think* the correct term is still “album” — especially because the industry still talks about selling “multi-platinum” albums and such.

Anyhoo … I find myself “tied” to certain musicians or actors; more because I find them interesting as a person more than I do their music or acting style, if that makes any sense. For instance: I love Johnny Depp — not *only* because I find him particularly handsome (in my own opinion, of course) but because of the interviews I’ve seen of him. I guess I’d say I find my “favorite” actors/musicians are those that likely have a bit of character and intelligence themselves.

9 VA Blondie { 07.03.11 at 7:38 pm }

I would agree that you should get a pet that the whole family would like. A fish is a good place to start, especially with the ability to get new ones. Though hermit crabs could be good, if you are interested. I remember getting them as a child, and they always died within 6 months, usually because we did not care for them.

As for writers, it sort of depends. There are some authors I want to get everything they have written because I like their voice. There are some characters I want to follow through a series, but other books by the same author do not interest me. I also have a rather eclectic music library. If I like it I buy it. I do not have an entire collection of any musician.

10 loribeth { 07.03.11 at 7:39 pm }

Hmmm… I guess I do have a few favourites, particularly when it comes to music & books. I would buy anything by Bruce Springsteen. He’s gone off in a few different directions over the years but even if I initially went “huh?” I almost always came around. E.g., the Nebraska album was initially kind of hard to listen to, but there are a few songs on that album that are among my very favourites of his now. Another example: Linda Ronstadt had a really diverse career (pity she’s sort of semi-retired now) – rock, country, traditional Mexican folk music, big band pop standards — and did all those genres really well.

One author I love & who never disappoints is Elizabeth Peters, who also writes as Barbara Michaels. She’s written a huge number of novels over the last 40 years, including a few recurring characters. In recent years, she’s mostly concentrated on Amelia Peabody & her family of Victorian-era Egyptologists (although the storylines have now moved into the 1920s). Each novel contains a wonderful mix of history (real facts & true-life characters mixed with fiction), mystery, melodrama & comedy.

11 Pundelina { 07.03.11 at 11:39 pm }

Orson Scott-Card! I’d read the back of a cereal box if he wrote it. And Melanie Rawn and Isaac Asimov. Oh and Sharon Penman, Dean Koontz, Lee Child (I *swoon* for Jack Reacher), David Baldacci and Harlen Coben. Once I find a writer who enthralls me consistently (3 books or so) then I’ll read it all!
Music, not sooo much like that, I like bits and pieces, am very eclectic, with the exception of metal, I pretty much like any style if I like it. But, like you, my interest level moves around through albums and years (except for all The Beatles’ music).
As for the crabbies, have fun! I know nothing, but surely you’d get attached to the little blighters if you had them for 25 years!

12 Alexicographer { 07.03.11 at 11:39 pm }

Hmmm, we had hermit crabs as kids and my vague recollection is they were the easiest pets ever (note that we kept them with crickets in winter, see my earlier comment in your snake/cricket post — but the crickets, though lovely and short-lived, are not essential). Where was I? Oh yes, so, aquarium, sand, small shallow dish of water, (commercial) food, a few larger shells and maybe somewhere the hermit crab could go hide (or am I mixing them up with the gerbils?). Attention every few days as I recall (add food, clean water), and they lived a few years (not 25). Even if they do live to 25, you won’t need to interrupt the Mah-jong, they don’t need care that often.

13 Barb { 07.03.11 at 11:47 pm }

hermit crabs do have the potential to live a long time but rarely do because of incorrect husbandry. There’s a surprising amount they need but I don’t have it off the top of my head at the moment. I have chinchillas, and people are all shocked that they are 16 and 11 right now. They say, “Don’t they live around 9yrs? That’s what mine did!” Nope. They just rarely have good care. They have the potential to live up to 30 yrs. Good for you for seeking out info! I LOVE Bea’s answer. (Bea do you take care of animals too?)

Fish kinda suck in my opinion b/c of the tank cleaning and the specific water requirements etc.

The shortest (natural life span) pet I can think of right now is a hamster. But they require a lot of cleaning etc as well. Their life span is 2-3 yrs though. Hey… sea monkeys! They die FAST! haha.

Good luck in any case!

I have a company I will follow into any movie. Does that count? Pixar. I will watch ANY movie they make no matter my hesitation… much like I used to with Disney. I will also read ANY Robin McKinley book except Deerskin. Even when I don’t love the story, I so appreciate her skill.

14 PaleMother { 07.04.11 at 1:34 pm }

We had a hermit crab that lived for three years and I’m sure it would still be alive today if we’d taken better care of it. (I got sick of dealing with it and with having it’s tank on our dining room table).

Random thoughts:

– We bought two at the beach. From two different vendors. They didn’t get along (I think it was a racial issue … one was dark purple). One morning shortly after we returned from vacation, we found the dark purple one dismembered. It was all very GoodFellas (“Let’s chop ‘im up”). Not pretty. When I read your post to Mike just now, he said, “What do they eat? They eat their companions.” I seem to remember reading something about … if you plan to expand your Hermit Crab herd, just make sure the new guys are smaller or larger? So they aren’t a threat to eachother?

– Hermit Crabs molt. You need to know this because … you will have to purchase a selection of new, larger shells to keep in the tank for when they are ready to upgrade. They also sometimes like to change shells just for the hell of it. Hermit crabs are picky and won’t wear just any old shell. And they can’t tell you their preferences. So you end up buying a lot of shells, trial and error. Hint: the general shape/type of shell he’s already wearing iis a good clue about what he might like. Oh. And when they molt? They bury themselves in the sand for a couple of weeks …

-When they molt, they need a couple of inches of sand to burrow down into. AND — this bears on your question of how many crabs to purchase — when they are molting, they need an isolation tank (it’s up to you to figure out the timing … they won’t send you a postcard beforehand like the dentist). Otherwise you may have a canabalism incident on your hands, even among otherwise peacefully co-existing crabs. (How sensitive are the twins about these wild kingdom scenarios?)

– Hermit crabs can spend a lot of time hiding. If you are lucky, you’ll have a friendly one that you can take out now and then. But most of the time, they hang out in the tank and aren’t even as amusing as fish (don’t get me started on goldfish — our other failed “low maintenance” pet experiment. Low maintenance? HA! Fish are ~beautiful.~ But until I’m rich enough to pay someone else to clean the tank, I’m sticking to creatures that breathe the same medium as the rest of us. Sick fish? BAD feng shui. BAD).

– In general, yes, once you are set up, Hermit Crabs are pretty low maintenance. But … they are also kind of low bang for the buck? Unless you really like spidery, buggy, exoskeleton-ey creatures. The only big maintenance thing would be … ripping the tank apart every now and then to clean it, replace the sand … what a production. But the humditiy the crabs require promotes mold. It starts to look depressing in there after a while. Usually right around the time you have a 1001 more pressing things to do.

– Humidity is important. You need to measure the humidity in the tank (pet stores sell thingies to measure it). And you need to make sure you keep the screen over top of the tank secure (I hear they are escape artists). You can raise the humidity in the tank by partially covering the screen lid with saran wrap.

– We had a heating element thing, specifically for Hermit Crabitats, that you stick to the bottom of the tank. Temperature is also important (you need a thermometer). You might be able to use a heat lamp instead. Think Carribbean environment.

– I think they need shallow dishes of both fresh AND salt water in their tank. You can make a saltwater solution with drops they sell at the pet store. Restoring the water and cleaning up the mess they make when they track through their food dish are your daily maintenance.

– Hermit crabs are easy to feed. The pet stores sells stuff they like (food, ‘treats” … one container lasts forever) and you can also feed them table scraps, salad, raisins. They don’t eat much.

So that’s it. Heat. Humidity. Water. Food. The environment is key. Do those things well and yes, they can live a very long time. I heard of someone who’s crab lived long enough to reach the size of a baseball …

I may still have our copy of Hermit Crabs For Dummies … be glad to mail it to you … let me know.

15 PaleMother { 07.04.11 at 1:43 pm }

Oh. And they are nocturnal. This is why they can be less amusing than fish. They are awake when you are asleep. Unless you are a light sleeper and that scritching, scratching noise bothers you.

16 PaleMother { 07.04.11 at 1:45 pm }

“whose” not who’s. Sorry. Rushing.

17 Shana { 07.04.11 at 7:21 pm }

I refer to “albums” too. Not sure if it is a generational thing or not.

The thing I found about hermit crabs is, they can get out of the bowl. I don’t know how it did it, but every so often I found an empty fish bowl where my hermit crab should have been, and a day or so later I found the hermit crab wandering around the kitchen. If you get one, you may want some sort of mesh cover.

18 Mali { 07.04.11 at 8:14 pm }

Re: hermit crabs. It’s a pity you can’t get older, discarded ones from a shelter who need to be re-homed. That way you wouldn’t be stuck with them for 25 years!

I have a whole list of authors I’d read regardless what they wrote. If I started listing them I know I’ll miss some obvious ones out, but I’ve read and loved multiple (and each one very different) books from authors such as Barbara Kingsolver, Carol Shields, Vikram Seth, Kazuo Ishiguro, Rose Tremain, John Irving, Chris Bohjalia, Ben Elton … I could go on … and on … and on. They’re all on my Goodreads list – give them a try!

19 TasIVFer { 07.04.11 at 11:06 pm }

No idea about hermit crabs, but schnauzers are quite wonderful. 😉

I’ve followed Weird All through all his albums – and I buy everything Alexander McCall Smith writes (well, not his academic texts). I get in moods where I just devour authors – I just finished all of Tony Hillerman’s Chee/Leaphorn novels, but then read another of his that wasn’t as good.

20 DAK13 { 07.07.11 at 11:34 am }

Well, I like your reading style and even though there may be some subjects I don’t find interest in, I still read. Does that count? : )

I think sometimes it is how much you like the actual writing style or genre to be honest. I was always a S. King fan, but then I think he stopped writing good stories but I kept reading, because I do like the Way he writes.

Make sense?

21 robin { 07.14.11 at 11:41 pm }

Whatever you get, make sure it lives in a common space! Pets in kids rooms are more likely to be forgotten about (I know, because I had fish in my bedroom when I was a little kid).

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