Tourists who visit the most southern islands of Thailand, Similan and Surin, which lie 50ks from the mainland find Hermit Crabs are plentiful but are becoming curiosities. Hermit Crabs can live for 30 years but this, along with shells being collected by tourists, has caused a housing shortage for them when they need to upsize their shells as they grow.
Darwin did not come up with the term ‘survival of the fittest’ for no good reason, for the crabs have found more modern homes. It is not unusual to see a coke can walking along the beach, inhabited by a hermit crab who has made his home in it. He has successfully moved home. In fact, Hermit Crabs queue for these new homes. It’s not unusual to see several of them waiting for a new home to come along. They wait for a can or a shell of the correct size, that another crab has outgrown, then move into it.
This solution is not ideal for the crabs and is not aesthetically pleasing either. Is it only a matter of opinion that these islands can’t remain paradise with crabs walking about in various types of tin can armour rather than the beautiful shells we are used to seeing?
A parallel can be drawn with the building solutions to our very own housing crisis, where shortages of ‘affordable housing’ is driving governments to find solutions. Some which may turn out as non-aesthetically pleasing as the coca cola cans, with blocks of square, uniform, new builds popping up everywhere. Nevertheless, they are much needed homes.
But a solution to the hermit crab housing shortage has been found, if only a temporary one. Nowadays, Thai rangers are collecting different sizes of shells and leaving them near the junk piles the crabs go to, for the tin cans. These are a better fit because the crabs find it much easier to slide their soft body parts around spiral shape of shel,l as opposed to clinging on to straight sides of a tin can.
Surely this is the key, encouraging developers to build properties that can be afforded by the First Time Buyer, but it should not stop there. After all, Hermit Crabs do not have to buy their homes, but we do!
Mortgage lenders need to take into consideration that a First Time Buyer may well have been a Long Term Renter, who has probably paid thousands in rent. These regular payments, however, are not taken into consideration when their details come up for approval by the lender. If only their track record for regularly paying rent were to be considered, they would have a greater chance of acquiring their own ‘tin can’.
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Thanks for reading, Sharon Harris.
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