Hermit crab chooses plastic toothpaste cap as its new home

At Expert Skip Hire, we've written a few posts about the problem that plastics are causing in the ocean. Back in September, we published an article about the increasing issues with plastic microbeads finding their way into the world's oceans. 

This post is slightly different in that it highlights one tiny way that this ingenious little hermit crab has actually made use of a piece of discarded plastic.

About Hermit Crabs

The hermit crab is a crustacean and there are more than 1,000 different species of them around the globe. Whilst they're called a crab, they're actually more closely related to lobsters.

Although they can also be found in deeper waters, you can often spot one if you take a closer look in rockpools along the coastline. Their hallmark feature is that whilst they live in a shell, it's not one they make themselves.


They're known for their use of shells that were once the home of other marine animals that have since died. They can often be found in whelk or periwinkle shells but don't keep the same shell for their entire lifespan.

As they grow, the shell becomes too small for them so they simply discard it and hunt around for a bigger one. This can often trigger a property rush and it's quite common for a good shell to be passed down the line to younger, smaller hermit crabs.

Without its shell to protect it from predators, the hermit crab's small, curled body is vulnerable to being eaten so as soon as it throws of its current old shell, the quest for a new one begins in earnest. They can often been seen fighting with other hermit crabs over a suitable new home.

An unusual recycling method 

Whilst some progess is being made to tackle the problem of what to do with old plastic (such as making it into roads), the problem of the growing amount of discarded plastic making its way into our oceans is still a huge issue. There are some innovative human ideas to tackle the problem of plastic in the ocean, but the tiny little hermit crab has found its own useful solution as well.

The photo was posted on Reddit by HSmidt and was taken by the user's girlfriend whilst in Cuba. It shows the sad reality of just how big the problem really is - This particular hermit crab has chosen a toothpaste cap as its new home instead of a shell.

It's thought that plastic can take up to 1000 years to biodegrade, so if this cloud has any kind of silver lining, it's that this new durable home may also be uselful to other hermit crabs for many years to come. 

About Us

We provide a professional skip hire service throughout the Sussex area and we currently recycle around 90% of all the waste we receive, including plastic.

Cookies / Privacy | Disclaimer/Damage Waiver | Expert Services Group Ltd. Registered office: Wilson House 48 Brooklyn Road Seaford East Sussex, England BN25 2DX - Company No. 06713008 - VAT No. 972682678 | Licenced as a Waste Carrier by the Environment Agency: Registration no. CBDU271130 | SEO & Marketing