Aniculus elegans

Habitat: Elegant hermit crabs are typically found in the rubble and on the reef.

Average adult size: Adults can grow to be 3 inches long.

Natural history: You never really get to see all of a hermit crab. Most crustaceans, such as crabs and lobsters, have antennae or claws up front and a hard thorax and abdomen in back. But, the hermit crab has a soft back end that needs to be protected. So they keep their abdomen tucked inside a discarded snail shell -- an underwater mobile home. If it feels threatened, the hermit crab just pulls its head and legs inside the shell. The only problem is what to do next year. As the hermit crab grows, its old shell becomes too small. It looks for a larger, abandoned shell, inspects it and moves in. This leaves the smaller shell available for up-and-comers. Recycling at its finest. The elegant hermit crab is very common and one of the largest species of hermit crabs. It lives in the large snail shells of Murex and Strombus. Elegant hermit crabs graze the reef for algae and small invertebrates. Range: From the Gulf of California south to Ecuador.

Range: From the Gulf of California south to Ecuador.

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