Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Don't call PETA, we plead ignorance

Saturday night we noticed something awful. Ristow's recently acquired pet hermit crab Spidey was lying outside of his shell and not moving. "oh great, there goes another McClintock pet" I thought to myself. I actually have been working hard on this one NOT to kill it. (For those of you who don't know the story of Ristow getting this pet see previous post in April)
So we left it till Sunday evening, not wanting to spoil Mother's Day and gave Ristow the bad news that his crab had died.
Here is Christopher's rendition of what happened next....... (after a few tears of course)

"Needless to say, we wanted to show Spidey some respect, so my son and I went to the back yard with flashlights and a shovel to pay our last respects to our little friend. We had agreed that we could keep Spidey's shell to remember him by, and not bury the whole thing. I have to admit, as a father, I was pretty proud of how I was handling this whole situation. My son is so lucky to have me, a caring compassionate dad to guide him through this phase of life.

After digging the hole, I took Spidey out of his little "Crabitat", I noticed how light and frail his little body was. Even as I picked him up, one of his legs fell off and back into the Crabitat, which lead my son to asking if I had broken the crab. I responded with something prolific about the fraility of life that would hopefully stave off any further questioning. I also noticed that one of Spidey's claws was still inside the shell and didn't fall out upon shaking the shell over top of the hole, so we pat down the hole with the shovel and say our good-byes. I told my son that I was going to wash the shell and then bring it to him after he was ready for bed, and that would give me the opportunity to get out the rest of the crab carcass.

When I was finally alone and the rest of the family was upstairs, I pull a butter knife out of the drawer to pry out the claw still in the shell over the sink, which comes out with a little more effort than I thought it should. As the claw falls from Spidey's shell and into the garbage disposal, I notice there is still some of his carcass left inside the shell. I attempt to dig that out too... and this is when a tiny little claw reaches around and grabs the shell. I go cold. I convince myself it is just a reflex, and there is no way that any part of this crab can still be alive. I poke at him again and I see two legs move.

I bolt upstairs and the look on my face leads my wife to ask immediately, "What's wrong?" I ask her, " Do hermit crabs molt?" and her jaw hits the floor. I told her what I had seen, and that I think I put one of his claws down the garbage disposal which immediately gives her the dry heaves. She tells me to put him in water and if he climbs out, then he is alive. The suggestion sounds good to me, so I hurry back down to the kitchen and put him in a bowl of water to see if he is alive. I wait and I wait. Do I want him to move or don't I? Caught up in the moment, I couldn't decide.

He moves. What do I do now? I hurry to consult the great swami Google, and there before me are pages upon pages of how to care for a molting hermit crab. The first two directions each page gives are to never move your molting hermit crab and do not submerse it in water, especially cold water. So far I have two strikes on me, but how much worse can it get? Next, in bold type, "Never move the shed Exoskeleton." Apparently , the crab EATS this exoskeleton and it contains VITAL nutrients to complete the transformation. I kept scanning the text for what to do if you and your weepy son have already buried this vital exoskeleton in the backyard... no one addressed that. As I read on, molting is one of the most stressful acts that the hermit crab has to endure. One website compared molting to the labor pains of giving birth. So if Karma holds true, my wife can expect during the middle of labor of our next child to be shaken over a hole, poked with butter knives and thrown in a cold swimming pool to see if she can crawl out. (Sorry babe)

By this time my wife and I are discussing our next move when we see my son standing in the doorway of the kitchen asking for his shell. After choosing our words carefully, but basically telling our son that we are idiots, we inform him that Spidey may still be alive, but we don't know for how long (thanks to us). He takes this surprisingly well and is actually encouraged. So while he is being put back to bed, I am headed back out to the backyard with a headlamp and shovel to excavate the nutrient rich exoskeleton vital for growth, assuming the neighbor's dog hasn't already dug it up and rolled on it.

Resembling an archeological dig, I use my gardening spade and BBQ sauce brush to dust away the dirt I had so thoroughly patted down with the shovel an hour ago. I was able to recover most of the exoskeleon which is now pretty crushed and missing a few legs and decide to clean the body parts off with Spidey's water spritzer. Luckily, last week, we had a bird fly up the basement stairs into the house and continually smash himself into our window. I had to open the window, take the screen out to eventually let him escape, and laziness had prevented me from putting the screen back in the window. I was able to lay the dirt and hermit body parts on the screen to sift through them and clean them as best I could.

After scooping up the legs, claws and other accrucrements, I set them near Spidey in the cage and hopefully he will find them just as delectable as if they had never left his side. I debated on whether to physically set him on top of his own molt so he will know that it is time to eat, but I thought that he had been through enough for one day.

I hope you'll join us in wishing Spidey a speedy recovery."

Well, so far Spidey is still alive and hanging in there. Hope everyone enjoyed a good laugh at our expense. We are learning and will hopefully one day become great pet owners!


Elissa said...

Just as funny the second time around! You guys are awesome!

Cameron said...

Hey Guys,
I'm currently locked outside my house waiting for Jeremy and I came across your hermit crab story. Thanks for making me lmao!! It reminded me of the time my brother pulled off the tail of my 2nd grade classes' pet rat Snuggles. After Xmas break I had to explain to the class was Snuggles was now "Stumpy"!!!

Thanks for the laughs!

Bri said...

this is hysterical! i hope spidey lives a long life!

suzannah @ so much shouting/laughter said...

oh my gosh, this is HORRIBLE! i wondered what christopher's cryptic FB status meant yesteday...

good luck, spidey. pull through, little guy!

Amy said...

OMG! That is horribly sad and funny all at the same time!

Amy said...

OMG! That is horribly sad and funny all at the same time!

Anonymous said...

What a story!!! Please take care of spidey for us, since we are animal lovers. Zack was trying to tell me the story over dinner and he said I just had to read it for myself.

Has he made it to his exoskeleton yet?? How is Christopher and Ristow doing after such an experience?

It will make a great show and tell story for kindergarten.

Take care,

misti said...

Mom and I were laughing so hard we had tears in our eyes! I think a cat might have been easier.