Oreo and Odessa's Favorite Pet Snail Stories:

Story #3
January 21, 2005

Odessa Makes friends with some new terrarium companions - Hermit Crabs

as told by Odessa


Hi Oreo,

Are you still sleeping? I sleep for awhile and wake up and go right back to sleep. Two days and nights this time. Demeter is still aestivating (like hibernating but no real cycle; see NOTE) ! He is the longest sleeper of us all. Mom taps him everyday just to make sure that he is OK. Mom knows that this is a normal sleep pattern for us snails; but it still makes her nervous and I think that she secretly misses us when we sleep too long.

We are still getting along nicely with Hector and Hannah our new Hermit Crab quests. They are very shy and perhaps a little scarred too as this is a new home for them.

Mom put a bunch of empty seashells into our terrarium just for them in case they want to change into a new shell home. See NOTE: We keep watching them but, they seem to like the ones they have on now. Don't worry I will tell you when they put on a new seashell house. That should be interesting and exciting. Mom plans to take some pictures of their shell options. Mom has put in quite a variety of shells for them to choose from so It will be fun to see which shell they pick. I hope that I am not asleep when they change sea shell homes!

A hermit home fit for a King Hermit Land Crab

Mom puts all kinds of differnet foods on our slate table now. Oreo, can you believe it, the Hermit Crabs even like celery! Oh YICK ! We don't like celery at all. I remember you telling me that you don't like it either. Well, you are not going to believe what else they absolutely love, "Peanut butter"!

When Mom smeared some of that awful looking and awful smelling sticky peanut butter on our slate table we were thinking, oh gross -


Hannah and Hector sneaked over to it They are still so nervous that they sneak everywhere. Tee hee... It's funny to watch them sneak around our terrarium with all those legs. However, I digress...I must get back to my peanut butter story.

Well, Hannah and Hector sneaked over and just started picking nervously on that peanut butter with there pinchers They shoved little bits of that awful peanut butter in their mouths just as fast as they could.


I and a few of my snail buddies seeing the crabs eating that STUFF decided that we should at least take a better look at and smell of that yicky stuff. We crawled cautiously over to it gave it a good smell! . PHEW!!!!! We all agreed Hannah and Hector could have it all.

We crawled away from that STUFF and up to our slices of cucumber and bits of lettuce and leisurely snacked on this lovely green food.. Hannah and Hector then decided to join us and they too ate a bit of the cucumber. We think they likely needed the cucumber just to get the taste of that yucky peanut butter out of their mouths.

Mom says that we are wrong. She says peanut butter tastes good and is good for everyone. Yick! We didn't want to hurt Mom's, Hector's or Hannah's feelings but we don't even want it to touch that awful peanut butter ever again let alone eat it!! Our Crab guests never say a word about our slime trails that we leave behind us so we won't tell them what we think about their peanut butter.

Hannah and Hector dig holes all over the floor of our terrarium, lots of them. I really do not understand why they do this. Mom told us to watch our step, so we don't fall in one. We really thought that this statement by Mom was funny. We only have one foot; therefore, we don't take steps we crawl or ripple our way around. We asked Mom why the hermit crabs dig these holes. She explained that Hermits dig these holes to hide in. If something scares them, they can quickly scoot into the nearest hole where they then flip dirt or sand all over their backs to cover themselves up. "Camouflaged Hermit Crabs"!

I hope that Hannah and Hector soon feel safe in their new home with us. They felt lonely and scarred in those nasty store cups where they had been kept. I guess only time and Mom's loving care will help them to feel secure and happy. That will come in time.

Well, Oreo I feel like having a wee bit of a snack (not peanut butter that is for sure), but, first Its time for me to check and see what's going on in my house. Nestor is awake and I think there is something new on our snack table. Thank goodness it doesn't look or smell like peanut butter. Then, I think that I will just curl up in my shell and sleep a few days

So, good bye for now and I'm sending you lots of love.

Your friend,


NOTE: Aestivation:
Pronunciation: `esti'veyshun
- a dormant state involving vastly lowered metabolism which certain animals enter in order to survive hot weather.

Snails will also aestivate due to altered seasons as well. However, unlike aestivation, this does not follow a cycle. Some snails, like the Apple Snails, bury themselves into the substrate decrease their metabolism and enter a period of aestivation.

Some snails can survive in their shells for amazing lenghts of time. One record shows that a Helix desortorum snail aestivated from 1846 to 1850 in a British museum. (Source)

- a state of dormancy in which certain animals spend the winter. It is associated with a dramatic reduction in all metabolic processes, including body temperature, breathing, and heart rate.


NOTE: Most crabs possess a hard shell that protects their soft body. Hermit crabs do not. Hermits crabs must search for an empty shell and when they find one they like, they crawl right into it. This becomes their protective home and they carry it around with them. When they out grow the shell they are in, , they just find a bigger shell and they change shells! Sometimes they change their shell for no reason at all.


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