Blackeyed Hermit Crab      Pagurus armatus



This cute little fellow is homeless!  Normally hermit crabs use a snail shell to protect their exposed abdomen, but this fellow abandoned his shell as it was brought up by a diver for a touch tank.  Notice that the abdomen is curved to the right with a modified hook-like tail.  This allows it's body to follow the internal curve of snail shells and to hold tight to the shell allowing rapid withdrawal into the shell for protection.  


This particular species is one of the largest of the local hermits with a shell (carapace) length of 1.7 inches (this specimen is about 3/4 of an inch shell length).  It's black eyes separate it from the similar Pagurus ochotensis or Alaskan hermit which has greenish-yellow eyes.  Both species have red, orange and white on their appendages.  Normally these types of hermit crabs have the right claw bigger than the left, but this is a young specimen whose claws have apparently some growth left in them.  Mature individuals commonly use Moon snail shells.


This species inhabits sand to sandy mud bottoms from the intertidal zone to depths of around 400 feet.  It's yellow-eyed cousin occurs deeper to over 1000 feet.  Both occur from the Aleutian Islands to southern California.  They feed on a variety of prey as well as organic debris.