ANIMAL: White-Spotted Hermit Crab Dardanus megistos Type of Animal: Hermit Crab Habitat: Reefs, lagoons, rocky platforms, sand/seagrass beds, found up to 328.084 ft Location(s): Indo-Pacific Appearance: Bright red to orange body w/ small white eyespots surrounded by black, body covered w/ dark red long erect coarse hairs, pair of long white primary antennules, pair of secondary antennae, stalked greenish-brownish eyes, 3 pairs of mouth appendages, eye stalks reddish w/ basal white spot, soft spiral-shaped asymmetrical abdomen, 10 legs, pincers on 1st pair of legs, travel/live in large empty gastropod shells, often only cephalothorax & 1st 3 pairs of legs visible w/ rest of body in shell, very large hermit crab, left claw larger than right claw Food/Diet: Carrion, mollusks, small worms, sea cucumbers, shrimp, krill, fish, algae Status in Wild: Stable Lifestyle: Solitary or groups ranging from 2-100 animals Additional Info: Called: Male Female Young: Zoea Group: Consortium Weight: 5-16 oz Gestation: 1 month Life Span: 30 years Body Length: 8-10 in Main predators are many fish, sharks, squid, octopus, & cuttlefish. Also called Spotted Hermit Crab, Giant Spotted Hermit Crab, Spotted Orange Hermit Crab, Hairy Hermit Crab, Strawberry Hermit Crab, & Shell-Breaking Reef Hermit. Eggs carried on female’s abdomen. Hermit crabs w/o gastropod shell sometimes kill & eat former residents, taking over their shell though they prefer taking shells from animals already dead. They need to molt to keep growing. When they molt, they crawl out of shells & look for larger gastropod shells. Most vulnerable to predators at this time due to lack of protection. Males chemically detect when females fertile, approaching them & holding onto them until ready to mate. Eggs hatch as planktonic larvae going through several planktonic larval stages before becoming juveniles. 1st line of defense is to withdraw into shell. One of the most colorful hermit crabs in the world. Fun Fact(s): Genus Dardanus refers to Dardanus of Greek mythology who was son of Zeus & Electra. Hermit crabs not true crabs since they lack uniformly hard exoskeleton & can’t grow own shells. Look more like lobsters than crabs when out of shell. These animals are not all that shy. Sometimes kept in home aquariums. Competition for new shells after molting can be fierce w/ larger crabs pulling smaller crabs out of shells using claws.