The Soldier Crab, pp.295-296.

[Three Hundred Animals Contents]

   IS a curious animal, and ought to be recorded here for the wonderful singularities of his habits. This animal, when divested of its shell, is somewhat like a lobster; it is about four inches in length, has no shell on the hinder part, but is covered down to the tail with a rough skin; it is armed with strong hard nippers. This Crab has not been provided, by nature with a shell, and is obliged to seek for one which can fit him, and has been deserted by its legitimate tenant; but as this covering does not proceed from himself, and does not grow of course proportionally with him, he is forced out of it by his increasing bigness, and finds himself under the necessity of looking out for a new one; it is curious to see him when in want of a new house, how he crawls from one empty shell to another, examining and trying his new habitation; and sometimes when two competitors happen to eye the same premises, a great contest arises, and of course the strongest gets the manor. They are very common on several coasts of England, and we had a fine opportunity of examining them at Exmouth, in Devonshire; where among the rocks and pebbles on the shore, a great quantity of these curious fishes are to be found. They live upon small vegetables, and smaller insects, which they find in the puddles which the tide leaves behind. 

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