A Japanese real estate listing company and students from Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology “unshellfishly” teamed up to help homeless hermit crabs find roomy new digs in artificial, biodegradable shells.

Hermit Crab Housing Crisis Solved By Japanese Real Estate Company

Hermit Crabs are famous for colonizing empty seashells and taking their new homes with them wherever they go. The crabs grow larger over their lifespans and as such, are constantly on the lookout for new, more roomy abodes.

The problem for these “professional house hunters”, as they've been dubbed by university professor Katsuyuki Hamasaki, is that “they are always short of shells” due mainly to environmental degradation. Desperate for shelter, the unfortunate hermit crabs resort to discarded mugs, bottle tops and other man-made trash.

Hermit Crab Housing Crisis Solved By Japanese Real Estate Company

Suumo, the aforementioned Japanese real estate listing company, learned of the hermit crabs' plight and saw an opportunity to lend a hand. Mind you, the company's motives weren't purely altruistic: helping the crabs would also help gain the company publicity via a creative advertising campaign called “Shell We Move?”.

Encouraged and funded by Suumo, professor Hamasaki and his students at Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology set about designing artificial shells that offered the crabs an alternative to flotsam and jetsam.

Hermit Crab Housing Crisis Solved By Japanese Real Estate Company

The university team employed CAD to design the perfect artificial seashell, then produced a bunch of them – in a range of sizes – from biodegradable and environmentally-friendly potato starch.

The real test came when the team placed the pseudo-shells on a beach frequented by hermit crabs: would the finicky crustaceans accept their new digs or turn up their noses (or whatever passes for noses among crabs)? We won't keep you in suspense – this tale has a happy ending but we urge you to check out this video to watch the story unfold. (via Spoon & Tamago

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