Hermit crab fur (Hydractinia echinata)
|Researched by||Catherine MacDougall||Refereed by||Admin|
|Other common names||Snail fur, Hermit crab hydroid||Synonyms||-|
Forms a horny mat, the hydrorhiza, about 3 mm thick on gastropod shells occupied by hermit crabs. The mat consists of thick jagged spines that reach 3 mm in height. Amongst the hydrorhiza mat there are three types of polyps: 1) a club like feeding polyp that grows up to 13 mm in length, with upper and lower circles of eight tentacles, the lower set being shorter than the upper; 2) male and female reproductive polyps (gonozoids) that have a few short terminal tentacles, and 3) specialized defensive stinging polyps (dactylozooids) that are long coils and look thread-like. The gonozoids liberate crawling planula larvae that can sense moving gastropod shells.
Recorded distribution in Britain and IrelandRecorded from all round Britain but sparse on the east coast.
Global distributionCommon from Arctic Norway to north west Africa. Not recorded in the Mediterranean.
HabitatLives on the shell of hermit crabs in the intertidal and subtidal.
- Forms a horny mat about 3 mm thick on the back of the gastropod shells occupied by a hermit crab.
- Amongst the mat there are long feeding polyps of 13 mm in length and defensive polyps in a long coil that look thread like.
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Last Updated: 28/01/2003