Bering Hermit Crab (Pagurus beringanus)

Bering Hermit Crab, Pagurus beringanus, Vancouver Island.

Bering Hermit Crab, Pagurus beringanus, Vancouver Island.

Bering hermit crabs have 10 legs- two underdeveloped pairs inside the shell, and three pairs of legs outside of the shell. The front two legs have large claws on the ends. Its legs are often grey, brown and/or green, with red and occasionally white bands around their legs and joints. Their legs have lots of tiny hairs on them that are actually ears!

Bering hermit crabs typically live in partially protected waters around rock formations and other rocky areas. They prefer to live in areas that remain underwater even at low tide. Bering hermit crabs are omnivorous scavengers. Their diet relies on what is available where they live. They will eat algae, seaweed, meat, and any other particles of food that they can find.

After choosing a mate, both the male and female crabs arise slightly from their shells.  The male gives reproductive material to the female in a capsule. The female will then put up to several thousand eggs on her left side where she will carry them until the yolk sack is gone and the eggs have changed from red to dark gray. These eggs will burst at first contact with salt water releasing the hermit crab larvae as plankton.  They will float in currents before until they are old enough to find their own discarded shell.