Shell rotating behavior of the hermit crabPagurus geminus was investigated. In preliminary observations, hermit crabs motivated to change shells rotated presented shells, filled with sand, in a way that dislodged the inside material. In order to determine if this behavior is stereotyped, or flexible and dependent on shell type, hermit crabs were tested with ordinary dextral shells ofLatirulus nagasakiensis and sinistral shells ofAntiplanes contraria. Sinistral shells are not normally encountered by hermit crabs. Their rotation of the dextral shell to the left was adequate for sand discharge. Sinistral shells were rotated in both directions. Analysis of recorded videotapes showed that variation in rotation direction could be attributed to variation in the position of the crab relative to the shell. When the crab faced the shell aperture from the inner lip, it rotated the sinistral shell to the right, and to opposite direction when it faced from the outer lip side. The crab always pushed the upper side of the horizontally laid shell, regardless of shell type or its own position.
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