Even hermit crabs aren't immune to swings in their own ecological economies. A global shortage of shells is leaving the entire species short on housing, and the DIY design community over at Makerbot isn't having it. Stepping in to bring shelter to the shell-less, Makerbot has launched Project Shellter along with artist in residence Miles Lightwood to crowdsource new shell designs that can be fabricated on Makerbot's 3-D printers.
Hermit crabs, as many a child could tell you, are not born with shells on their backs. They have to scavenge for suitable housing, which they usually find in a shell. But the current shell shortage has them turning to all kinds of alternatives that are less than ideal. Per Bre Pettis over on the Makerbot blog: "With a shell shortage, hermit crabs around the world are being forced to stick their butts into bottles, shotgun shells, and anything else they can find. This is not acceptable. As a community, we can reach out to this vulnerable species and offer our digital design skills and 3D printing capabilities and give hermit crabs another option: 3D printed shells."
Pettis and company have set up a "crabitat" in its Brooklyn HQ, and Lightwood is setting up a West Coast crabitat in Los Angeles. Right now, no one is sure if crabs will take to a 3-D printed shell, or what kinds of materials they might find suitable for a fabricated shell. By turning to the community, Makerbot hopes to come up with a range of shell designs to try out in the crabitats. If they find one that fits, Makerbots everywhere could be turned to the task of creating housing for the world's population of hermit crab have-nots.
If you've got a Makerbot, or just some spare time and some design skills, you can participate by uploading your designs to Thingiverse.
Issue #1...The materials that most home 3D printers use might not be eco-friendly. In other words, these homes would be sources of water pollution.
Issue #2...The hermit crab's skin might absorb the toxins in the plastics and the animals will slowly die of poisoning.
Issue #3...The a well intentioned endeavor, there are much better things to be accomplished.
Glass is environmentally friendly. I wonder if there are any disposable small glass items we toss out in the trash that is just the right size for these little crabs.
Why not anyone that has a used glass perfume bottle send it to a supplied address? A great many of these bottles are small and the tops can be cut off and clean the bottles. They are perfect for the little crab.
As the sand breaks down the bottle, there is no harm to the environment.
They can use been cans. Like the episode of the Simpsons when Lisa makes cool friends at the cottage, then Bart and Milhouse try to ruin it for her.
Seriously though, I hope they can print things out of something other than plastic.
I have no idea where this huge 3-D printing fetish came from.
I believe they have a selection of materials to print with, a cement would be fine and I am sure there is bio-eco friendly glue options as well, however you want the shell to last a few years in salt water at least. No good if the poor bugger wakes up one morning and finds his shell dissolved!