October 15th, 2016

Post Office pets

I was at the post office today and bought a set of stamps. The choices I was offered consisted of the basic one, and then a set of trucks versus a set of pets.



Pressed for time, with a line behind me which precluded asking for further alternatives and lengthy deliberation, I went for the pets instead of the trucks as the image I preferred to present to my bill collectors (the only use I seem to have anymore for stamps). Some of you might have chosen differently, no doubt.

But here’s my question: hermit crabs?? People keep hermit crabs as pets?

The post office wants you to know that people do keep hermit crabs as pets:


Well, why not? People keep turtles and iguanas, too (they each have a stamp devoted to them, as well, although the post office calls the former “tortoises“).

Intrigued by the hermit crab news, what did I do? Why, Googled it, of course, and found this (from PETA, naturally), which lists seven reasons you shouldn’t buy a hermit crab as a pet, with the following summary:

Never, ever buy a hermit crab. They are not “starter pets” or trinkets. Crabs are complex, sensitive animals who want to live in the wild, not in a cage. Even the most well-meaning person who purchases crabs will never be able to give them the life that they deserve.

If you or someone you know already has a hermit crab, check out this hermit crab care guide for helpful tips on keeping crabs happy. Hermit crabs need companionship, plenty of climbing room, substrate to bury themselves in for molting, humidity, warm temperatures, extra shells, fresh and salt water (dechlorinated aquarium salt only), and much, much more! Never release a captive crab back into the wild.

That’s a lot more trouble than I would want to go to for the dubious pleasure of caring for my very own hermit crab. So I don’t have to be talked into not buying one. But I wonder why anyone would want one (I wonder that about a lot of pets, actually, although not dogs or cats). I’m not sure I buy the sales pitch on this site promoting exactly what PETA is railing against, the idea of hermit crabs as “starter pets”:

Hermit crabs have their own personalities and are fun starter pets for families and classrooms. They are easy to care for and their crabby antics, like climbing, digging, molting and shell switching, as are entertaining as they are educational.

How entertaining and educational is that, though?

29 Responses to “Post Office pets”

  1. LTEC Says:

    Are “dogs” and “puppies” two different pets? Are “cats” and “kittens” two different pets?

  2. sdferr Says:

    I was kinda like PETA myself back in the day, urging my friend not to buy that 1957 International Harvester Step-side for a pet. He was so head-over-heels though, my words were in one ear and out the other.

  3. Frog Says:

    Owners of non-traditional pets generate enormous, irremediable ecological problems. Pythons released into the Everglades are an example.
    Sometimes they are not released, but escape:

  4. Vanderleun Says:

    It is so very girlish to go for the pets instead of the trucks. The PO has your number.

  5. Vanderleun Says:

    “But I wonder why anyone would want one….”

    You can train them as back scratchers.

  6. neo-neocon Says:


    According to the PO they are. It’s also a good way to get some cute pictures in there, and to appeal to the largest groups of pet-owners of all: cat lovers and dog lovers.

  7. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    The cognitive dissonance at PETA is mind boggling;

    “Never, ever buy a hermit crab.” VS “Never release a captive crab back into the wild.”

    So they just lead lonely lives in the pet store until the proprietor tosses them in the trash?

    “Crabs are complex, sensitive animals who want to live in the wild, not in a cage. Even the most well-meaning person who purchases crabs will never be able to give them the life that they deserve.”

    They’re a lower life form, i.e. they’re not complex and therefore they can’t be sensitive. How do we know what they want? Why not a predator free life with free meals?

    The life they deserve?

    “In the wild, this shell protects the hermit crab from a wide range of predators. The hermit crab’s size makes it relatively low on the food chain. They are found near the ocean in tropic regions, where they may fall prey to larger species of crabs, seagulls, fish, cane toads, and nearly any other creature that finds it on the beach. “

    “Hermit crabs need companionship”

    Since when do hermits want companionship?

  8. neo-neocon Says:

    Geoffrey Britain:

    I’m not so sure we can speak of “wants” in terms of hermit crabs.

    But, to be fair, the crabs didn’t name themselves, either. So who knows whether they’re really hermits in their hearts, their itty-bitty crabby hearts*?

    This says, however, that they live in colonies:

    The name “hermit” does not rouse images of a complex social life, particularly not one involving the commotion of social aggregations, intergenerational inheritance of homes, and life-or-death competitive struggles. And yet, hermit crabs—terrestrial hermit crabs, in particular—exhibit all this and more.

    Much more at the link.

    *And no, hermit crabs don’t actually have hearts.

  9. groundhog Says:

    Not sure why they didn’t include the Ant Farm.

  10. OM Says:

    What does PETA have to say about that fad from the ’70s, PET ROCKS?

  11. Steve57 Says:

    I weep, that you chose the PETA fetish objects over the pick-up trucks, which made America great, hauling produce and livestock where it needs to be. Among other vital tasks. All the while spewing lovely plant food known as Carbon Dioxide across the fruited plain.

    Don’t worry, I won’t let this one stumble interfere with the deep affection and respect I hold for you, neo.

  12. parker Says:

    I write letters to old friends around the country so I would buy both sets. I too find it strange the variety of animals that are pets. One that I really don’t understand is having a ferret/s. Yeah, they are cute, but they are also smelly, destructive, and almost impossible to potty train.

  13. Susanamantha Says:

    I seem to have acquired a pack or two of stink bugs. I might as well call them pets. They seem to be wherever I am, buzzing around at night, swimming in my water glass, at least for a while. They’re the best kind, I guess, for I need not feed them, or immunize them, or license them. BTW, they all have the same name, “Stinky”.

  14. neo-neocon Says:


    Not Stinky One, Stinky Two, Stinky Three…?

  15. OM Says:

    I thought Stinky! and Stinky!! were trying to get elected POTUS. How do you tell which is the D and which is the R?

  16. SCOTTtheBADGER Says:

    I liked my 1947 IH KB-1.

  17. neo-neocon Says:


    What do you know? You’re just a badger.

  18. Steve57 Says:

    Uhh, that’s a European Badger.


    Good luck wrestling an American Badger into your kiddie pool.


  19. Steve57 Says:

    Just saying, neo. I picture myself somewhat the badger myself.

  20. Steve57 Says:

    SCOTTtheBADGER said:

    “I liked my 1947 IH KB-1.”

    I still have a 392 in my garage. Painted in Farmall Red, natch. Four barrel manifold. Schneider cam…


    …Because I race farm equipment.

  21. sdferr Says:

    Heh. I owned a ’69 Travelall in ’84-88, which mein Weib named “The Eliminator” as it seemed to consume the bulk of my spare time and pocket money.

  22. geokstr Says:

    Where are the ferrets, and the sugar gliders?

  23. sdferr Says:

    The story of “Neo” the pet puppy . . . er, dog . . . er, not-dog.

    Kinda like the Donald, no?

  24. OlderandWheezier Says:

    Instead of the assorted pet stamps, I’d rather have a sheet with just the snakes. Especially for when sending payments to the IRS.

  25. Ruminant Says:

    Where do you get dechlorinated NaCl? Should elemental sodium be used instead?

  26. Steve57 Says:

    sdferr said:

    “Heh. I owned a ’69 Travelall in ’84-88, which mein Weib named “The Eliminator” as it seemed to consume the bulk of my spare time and pocket money.”

    Mine was a ’76 Traveler. 304, torqueflight, 3:54 gears. Oddly enough from a performance standpoint the 304 was the way to go simply because of the lighter weight of the reciprocating assembly. Peeps who do actually race cornbinders stick with the 304, although when you get to a more serious competitive level you don’t use IHC engines anymore as they’re not developed for racing and you’re better off with a Chevy or MOPAR. But in real life, climbing hills, the 392 will lay down the law.


    XLC. Extra Load Capacity. One ton trucks were exempt from the encroaching emissions standards. IHC couldn’t afford to meet them so they “upgraded” their suspensions so their light line would qualify as one ton trucks. I think my kidneys are still recovering from the Conestoga wagon ride my Traveler delivered me.

    My guilty pleasure is enjoying the fact that my Tacoma doesn’t treat me like paint needing to be mixed.

    Still, if I could find the right pick up truck my 392 would have a new home in a heart beat.

  27. Steve57 Says:


    “Johnny Law and the 53”

    What are you going to do with me, ladies? No matter how old I get I’m still a 16 y.o. with a driver’s permit and raging hormones.

  28. Steve S Says:

    If you or someone you know already has a hermit crab, check out this hermit crab care guide for helpful tips on keeping crabs happy.

    We surely would not want an unhappy hermit crab.

  29. Steve57 Says:

    Unhappy hermit crabs, or their other terrestrial cousins, have caused nervous men to waste a lot of ammo. When the Marines arrived on Guadalcanal they weren’t prepared for what they would face in many different ways. They weren’t prepared for the noises they would hear at night.

    I think all of us can understand just how bad a night can be to get through, even in better circumstances then the Marines endured on Guadalcanal.

    So they’d hear the crabs crawling around, and think they were Japanese soldiers, and shoot at the sound.

    Things got so bad that they actually had to put out an order; unless you can see what you’re shooting at, don’t shoot. This was particularly valuable on Guadalcanal, because unfairly in my opinion, the Navy got blamed for leaving the Marines high and dry. But the Marines were short of supplies, including ammo, so they had none to waste.

    Variants of that order went out to other sea service commands (I don’t know about the Army). One of my personal heroes, Earnest Evans, Skipper of the Destroyer USS Johnston DD-557, reluctantly because he obviously liked and respected the guy, cautioned his gunnery officer against wasting ammo on a couple of occasions. Once at Saipan Bob Hagen, gunnery officer, noticed a Japanese officer while providing NGFS to the Marines, standing on the beach waving his Gunto. Hagen thought, “Why not?” he slew all five of his five inch guns on the target and obliterated him. Skipper Evans said, “Nice shooting, Mr. Hagen. But next time try not to waste so much ammo on one individual.”

    Later, in the Battle off Samar, Evans told Hagen not to fire unless he could see what he was shooting it. The battle had become confused, nobody really knew where anybody else was, and the danger of fratricide was very real. But Hagen saw the pagoda mast of a Japanese battleship (this is a destroyer we’re talking about, remember) and said to himself, “I can sure as hell see that” and took it under fire.


    “… His prayer entering battle was offered to a higher plane, but the words that came out of his mouth were meant for a mortal, his captain, who was standing in the pilothouse below him. “Please, sir, let’s not go down before we fire our damn torpedoes.”

    Lieutenant Robert C. Hagen, the 25-year-old who spoke those words to Commander Ernest E. Evans, the captain of the USS Johnston (DD-557), had a front-row seat to a naval cataclysm. Hagen was the ship’s gunnery officer. On the morning of 25 October 1944 he had a clear, telescopic view through his Mark 37 gun director of a ship six times the Johnston’s size…”

    Halsey had to issue a message to his battle group about not wasting depth charges on neutral fish. Cut it out. The sea services, and I believe the Army, didn’t conduct realistic training during the Depression because money was tight. Wasting depth charges on fish was just the naval variant of Marines wasting rifle rounds on crabs.

    But personally I’m happy when the hermit crabs are unhappy. On Wake Island the crabs would have eaten the bodies of the dead defenders. It’s just what crabs do. They didn’t get their way, because decency and the requirements of maintaining morale said they wouldn’t.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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