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My grandpa came back from Florida this weekend with three hermit crabs for us. He was thinking the hermies would be a bit easier than they happen to be, but after a day of obsessive research, I got them out of their sad teeny plastic carrying cases and into an awesome crabitat.

Here’s the new home Eliza and I put together for Herman, Horatio, and Henrietta:

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I did my research first, because I knew if I walked into the pet store without figuring out what I could DIY first I’d drop an insane amount of money. We came out not too bad: we just needed to buy water drops to remove chlorine, salt water drops, a hygrometer, and a warmer.

But lots of things, we could do at home. Instead of sticking them in a tiny glass tank within our budget, I moved some Christmas decorations around and got out a big clear storage tub. I drilled air holes in the lid and it’ll be a great home until we can score a giant glass tank cheap on Craigslist. (Not sure if the plastic would be good for them over time and we can’t heat it.)

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There was also no point in buying the super expensive aquarium sand–all purpose sand is great for them and we happened to already have a lot! I baked it in batches to sterilize it for them and got it to sandcastle consistency with dechlorinated water to get the humidity right.

I made sure it was deep enough for them to bury into.

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Next Eliza and I got to decorating. We made sure there were plenty of things to climb on, grabbing rocks from Eliza’s collection and shells and coral from around the house.

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They dig having places to climb.

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But they like the places to hide even more. (They are hermit crabs, after all.)

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Crabs in a tub might not look fancy from far away, but they sure look happy scuttling around in there! We’ve spend hours watching them when they are at their most active. I’m excited for when they’ve acclimated a bit more and I can handle them.

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Next we just need to find lots of shells for them to change into. It turns out that they don’t like the painted shells typically, so I’m on the lookout for a variety of natural ones. We’ve already watched Herman indecisively try out a few which was pretty entertaining. But not as entertaining as watching Horatio and Henrietta climb over each other and punch at each other when they first met. That was plain silly.

Update: We added a bunch of sand to one side so that it is deep enough for the crabs to molt! Good thing, too–Henrietta is under now.

This year it’s my goal to complete 52 Projects. Projects can be art, crafts, home improvement, tech, gardening, or whatever else my brain might venture into. They might be collaborative or independent. The point is to MAKE.

This is project 3 of 52! Check out the other projects: 1: Class Quilt / 2: Valentines with Eliza.