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View Full Version : Cleaning a horseshoe crab shell?


Rubystreak
08-17-2005, 01:37 PM
I'm on Staten Island right now, which is a horseshoe crab breeding ground. On the beach are many abandoned shells, some of which are intact and very cool looking. However, they are pretty stinky. I took a couple of them home with me, ones that smelled the least, though they still have an odor. One of them has none of the legs anymore, just the outer shell, while the other still has the shell that covered its 10 legs.

I want to clean these shells so I can keep them, but I don't want my house to smell like low tide. They are made out of chitin, which is different from the other shells I have that can be cleaned with bleach. I don't want to ruin these shells. Does anyone know of a safe way to clean chitin that won't harm its surface or cause it to break down? Thanks.

Phlosphr
08-17-2005, 02:06 PM
Ahhh yes, horseshoe crabs..... I was born and raised on the coast of Connecticut and have had my fair share of dried out horseshoe crab shells. Aside from the legs, there are three basic moving parts, the long sword like tail that hinges to the triangular shape "head" which hinges to the body, or shoe. The hinges are made of soft tissue, they tend to stink when drying. After they dry they have a tendency break off. So if you want to keep the shoe looking intact you'll have to either break it apart, dry it, then fasten it back together or dry it, and hope for the best. I had a very large horseshoe crab hanging from my barn for more than 5 years. I dried the whole thing, after washing it in cold water.

So depending on the size of the crab, I'd wash it throoughly in fresh water, even leave it over night in a bucket, then dry it in the sun for a week. Then it should be good for a years....I love those prehistoric little bastards....

Rubystreak
08-17-2005, 03:28 PM
So no special cleaning is required, just drying? When I find cool spiral shells, I usually soak them in bleach, then oil them with paraffin, but I had a feeling that crab shells were different.

Phlosphr
08-17-2005, 05:13 PM
Well you see the horseshoe shell is essentially it's body. Meaning there is meat in the centimeter width surrounding the entire shell. This has to dry completely to lose all the smell. It takes a while, and a lot of time raccoons will smell them decaying for miles. So hang it if you can.

ouryL
08-17-2005, 07:37 PM
Ahhh yes, horseshoe crabs..... I was born and raised on the coast of Connecticut and have had my fair share of dried out horseshoe crab shells. Aside from the legs, there are three basic moving parts, the long sword like tail that hinges to the triangular shape "head" which hinges to the body, or shoe. The hinges are made of soft tissue, they tend to stink when drying. After they dry they have a tendency break off. So if you want to keep the shoe looking intact you'll have to either break it apart, dry it, then fasten it back together or dry it, and hope for the best. I had a very large horseshoe crab hanging from my barn for more than 5 years. I dried the whole thing, after washing it in cold water.

So depending on the size of the crab, I'd wash it throoughly in fresh water, even leave it over night in a bucket, then dry it in the sun for a week. Then it should be good for a years....I love those prehistoric little bastards....

They have blue blood. Creepy!