I was delighted by this large shell of Melongena corona that I had found while exploring a sandy beach during a low tide last week in Florida. I peered deep into the body whorl and even smelled it. "It is empty and clean", I declared to myself. Then I put it in a box and took it home.
I should have known better. Soon after I placed it on the bathroom counter—my vacation lab—hairy legs and a pair of antennas appeared in the aperture. The resident hermit crab, the rightful owner of the shell, was getting ready to explore its new and unexpected surroundings.
So I put it in a small container of seawater. Their skittishness notwithstanding, hermit crabs are difficult to confine to tight spaces: they must get going as soon as they think the coast is clear.
This one made more than one attempt to escape from its pool until I resorted to putting a lid on it. It ended up spending an unhappy night in its confinement.
I did return it unharmed to its beach the next day. I placed it on the sand and a few minutes later it had disappeared in the receding tide.
Another post on the hermit crabs of Florida is here.