the following is going to be full of pics and full of ramble. but it is important ramble, and word needs to be spread. first a bit of history about me. i got my first 3 crabs from a kiosk in the mall last august. knew nothing for the first 24 hours. lost 2 of the 3 within a week. plastic critter carrier led to 10gal led to 29gal and another 10. anyway, as i would lose crabs the kiosk had a return policy -and i took full advantage of it, and basically i went from looking for the healthiest hermies, to the ones in need the most. the reason i did that is because i learned something that broke my heart. freedom wouldn't come out to see me, and i bought him sight unseen, because he and merica were BIG crabs, and no one wants the big ones. merica would come out to see me, but freedom just stayed inside his shell and clicked. and his BP would open and close...and that was it. later that evening, i realized he wasn't coming out, because he COULDN'T come out. stuck. imprisioned. my heart broke, and i panicked a little. for a minute. then i got to work. two hours later i had clipped him to freedom and finally he got to see the light of day one more time. i was raging mad. his big pincher joint was stuck inside that stupid soccer ball shell, he was adhered to the paint inside the shell, and he was held captive in the very shelter that is meant to keep him alive. he died, but died being able to breathe the clean air and taking nourishment and he was no longer trapped and slowly suffering in the dark. so i went back to the kiosk with the sole purpose of finding more like freedom. i found tucker. bound, stuck, adhered, cemented. painted finding nemo shell. two hours later, tucker got free. his eyes were so clouded over, i just cry to think how long these little things are suffering inside themselves. tucker died too, in a more comfortable shell, and seeing life again. friday night i went to my favorite pet store, for cat food. and well...crab in a cup anyone? they always have good hermies, in natural shells, none of the painted crap. so i wandered to the hermit crab tank and in the aquarium is about 16 crabs in cups, stacked on top of each other. all in red or pink heart shells. one of the employees walked by and i said, um... why are these in cups? "oh, it's just for valentine's day" but...why don't you free them, this is exactly what walmart does well we haven't had TIME. wtf dood, it's your JOB to take care of the pets. he went to help someone else. so over comes a girl, and i said, oooh, i guess i'm going to get one. can i look at them? she said sure go ahead, and the guy comes back and said, oh, when you have time can you open all those containers? so she did, while i'm politely bitching about their stupid painted crap shells they are now having. i helped her free them. i was going to get one that was staring at me through the bucket, and making praying pinchers. she freed her before i could say i wanted her and the little pattie was happily roaming so i looked on. and decided on booger, because of the blob of boogery paint by her eyes. more on her later. so i went in search of another in need. found one dead, and then came upon my newest rescue. i could tell by looking he was stuck. generally, if a hermit crab doesn't at least come out to check you out, they're either stuck, sick, or dead. so i told her, he's stuck you know. oh really? um, yeah, he can't move. took him home, got home at 5:55, gave them a quick bath, in which he did not move one little bit. only his big pincher moved so i knew he was alive. could only see 3 of his 6 supposed to be seen legs. dammit. http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v622/prettierworld/ugh.jpg to the casual observer, nothing looks wrong with this crab, just shy...hiding. freeing a stuck crab is just about as intricate, daunting, nerve-wracking, and time consuming as brain surgery. i use cuticle nippers that have a sharp point and let's just say, i learned my lesson the hard way. for one thing, WHY do they paint the inside of the shells? it CEMENTS their bodies and legs to the shell they're forced into, and they are so traumatized in the 'factory' that i'm sure a good majority of them hide asap. to their detriment, obviously. crabs are not pliable, they are hard crustaceons with not a lot of options once they get in such a predicament. from first clip to last it was a full three hours. i took a one minute break, and went right back at it. i knew i was stressing him out, but i guess i'd rather do that all in one fell swoop, than to free him bit by bit and leave him almost free. which i thought about doing, but. i didn't. he was by far my worst stuck crab. tucker and freedom were difficult, tucker moreso because he was in a REALLY thick shell, but he wasn't nearly so bound. at first i thought it was his big pincher that was holding him captive. well, it was, but in actuality, it was EVERY leg that was stuck. the two on his left were absolutely superglued to the shell, the two on his right were so cramped they were not visible. his little pincher was no where to be seen. it was squished under him and one of his left legs was over the top of the other one. completely unnatural. it's like crossing your legs and having your body roped to your legs with your arms squished and crossed, somewhere in the middle, and tossed in a tiny dark box. here he is, after about 1 1/2 hours of solid clipping. his little pincher, finally is seen. he still couldn't move, fractions of centimeters is the only thing i got from him. and a big pincher opening and closing, in fear, and self protection. typing this again is making me cry. the poor baby, i just...ugh. christ, this part i will never forget. i stabbed him. you can see his wound on his right leg. as soon as i did it, he kicked his leg out in pain, and all my apologies to him didn't help. soon it went soft and limp. ugh. i am always SO careful when i do this. i have to chip the shell away flake by flake by flake. once in a while i can get a 'chunk' and it will go zinging through the air and hit a wall. the chunk is smaller than the size of a pencil lead tip. anyway, about twenty minutes after i stabbed him, he kicked his leg out again and wouldn't put it back down. i knew if he survived he would drop it, at least they have that benefit of dropping a leg if need be. it was soft and cold. guilt=piccalo. if you look closely, you can see his eyes. barely. but finally. it's hard to tell, but this pic shows how much he was cemented. a few times i just set him down on the towel and hoped he would just die. but i started clipping away more and more and finally i could see his eyes. sort of. but he saw me and i couldn't stop now. so, after seeing his eyes, i knew the worst was to come. if i could stab his leg so easily, damaging his eyes would have been catastrophic. and it just so happened that the worst part of where he was stuck was precariously close to his eyes. so i used stress coat as lube and flake by flake by flake his legs started moving. i couldn't take pics at this point because i was too close. i thought. he was SO bound, that once he started getting a little room to move, his leg lifted a little so it was over the surface of the shell. kinda like a rubber band tight on your finger. i was hoping he'd start to move himself out but he did not move whatsoever. i honestly didn't think i'd get him out. FINALLY finally finally 2.45 hours into it, i saw an eye, and only one eye because he still couldn't move, but one last clip did it and he moved so i could see both eyes. and a pile of cottage cheesy scum on his back. i don't know what it is, but i THINK it was a collection of shell flakes/stress coat/water. poor thing. he dropped his leg once he was free, and into "iso" he went. iso isn't really iso, as there are about 5 buried. i left him alone for a few minutes, i know the stress I went through for three hours, i can only imagine the torture he has been enduring. when i came back, i couldn't find him, but his shell was laying there and of course my heart jumped in fear. lifted the cocohut and there he was, in a nice, too big, comfortable shell. happy birthday, clipper. he went down under on friday night, and is still buried. i can only hope for the best, but whether he is strong enough to survive his nightmare is yet to be seen. i'm going to continue to do what i can for these little critters, my heart just aches at the brutality of their lives. only the strongest of them survive, and we HAVE to do something about this. i'm at a loss for legalities, but SOMETHING MUST CHANGE. this business is barbaric and inhumane. and painted shells should be outlawed. period. i apologize for the length of this, but it is for a good cause.