Keepers at Bristol Aquarium are inviting visitors to design a new shellsuit for their giant tropical hermit crab.
Herman the hermit crab is about to outgrow his old shell and the Harbourside attraction has obtained a larger one for him to move into.
However the new shell is a plain white colour and staff have decided to enlist the help of visitors to create a brightly-coloured design for it.
Bristol Aquarium’s Mike Coe said: “Herman is a magnificent-looking crustacean and a real character. He’s still got quite a lot of growing to do and his old shell is becoming a little bit cramped.
“The plan is for us to put the new shell into his display at the end of September but before that we’re asking visitors to ‘pimp his shell’ and come up with a new design for it.
“We’ve put a series of blank shell templates in the arts and craft area of the aquarium and we’re inviting the public to create their own ‘shellsuits’,” he added.
The winning entry will be picked by a team of judges at the end of September and the aquarium will then enlist the help of a local artist to transfer the design on to the shell using special environmentally-friendly, waterproof paints.
Among the judges will be fashion designer Charlotte Todd, who now works at the aquarium, and created the famous dress Kate Middleton wore on the catwalk when she first met Prince William.
“We’re hoping the competition will inspire some would-be designers to get involved and the winning entry will also receive an annual pass to the aquarium,” added Mike.
Hermit crabs use their strong stomach muscles to keep themselves safe inside their shell homes. They have two sets of legs that they extend outside their shell for walking and two pairs of legs tucked away inside that they use to move their body around inside their shell.
All hermit crabs are ‘right-handed’ as their right claws are larger and usually a different shape from their left claws. They use the large right claw for protection and holding food, and the small left claw for eating.