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More on Freshwater Hermit Crabs

Freshwater crabs are one of the rarest species of living things on earth. Before starting a discussion about freshwater crabs, it is important to mention that these crabs are only found in a single lake in the entire world and are the rarest of the rare exotic animals.

There are many species of marine hermit crabs, and all but one species are inhabitants of alkaline water. Alkaline water crabs are native to different ocean regions around the world and retain this birth throughout their captivity even. This means that the salinity and color of their captive waters should be like their own waters. However, although many marine species of these crabs have adapted to a captive environment in the company of humans, it is impossible to keep freshwater crabs as pets. Being a rarest species, any kind of human encroachment in their habitat is prohibited by international laws devised by the custodians of wildlife conservation.

The only freshwater reservoir where these rarest of earth’s inhabitants have been found to live is the freshwater pool at Espirito Santo, Vanuatu in the southwestern tropical Pacific. This coastal lake is located near the village of Matevulu and is next to an abandoned airstrip. The hermit species that lives in this coastal lake is Clibanarius fonticola of the genus Clibanarius. Zoologists McLaughlin and Murray first reported this unique freshwater hermit habitat in 1990. Freshwater crabs are very unique and prefer only abandoned snail shells of the Clithon corona snail species. Clithon crown shells are found in their natural pond. The natural Espirito Santo Lake is fed with fresh water from the nearby springs.

The reason for the freshwater hermits’ unique habitat can be traced to the unique contribution of their magical lake habitat conditions. Always fed by running streams, this freshwater lake has a running water condition that is so necessary for sea crabs to breed. Additionally, since the lake is located in a coastal area, there must be underlying evidence of alkalinity in the lake water that makes this habitat so favorable for crabs. This confluence of running water and underlying alkalinity makes the pool the single most ideal location for the survival of the Clibanarius fonticola species. The lake’s remote and private location is also a major reason why these crabs have chosen the lake as their only freshwater home.

Some of the other members of the genus Clibanarius, such as Clibanarius erythropus, Clibanarius signatus, Clibanarius tricolor, Clibanarius snelliusi and Clibanarius englaucus can live in marine aquariums if their native conditions are adequately provided in captivity. The genus Clibanarius, belonging to the family Diogenidae, also has a very special identifying character. Unlike all other crabs, these crabs have their left claw enlarged and ornamented and are thus also known as left-handed hermit crabs.

Although other marine hermit crabs have no requirement for fresh water, however, surprisingly, land crabs only drink fresh water for survival. In this regard, it might not be out of place to christen these land crabs as freshwater hermit crabs. These land crabs drink fresh water for their nutritional needs, but prefer to bathe in a container of alkaline water.

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