Making a coconut castle is a treat for you and your hermit crabs. Enlist some friends or family to help you eat and drink three (or more!) coconuts :)
Step 1: Gather Supplies
- 3 young coconuts (I found these at Whole Foods for $5 each, but often they can be found for about $3)
- Cleaned saw
- Cleaned awl
- 3 large cups
- A hammer is also helpful
Step 2: Poke, Drain, & Drink!
Remove the plastic wrap. Using the awl, and hammer if needed, poke three holes in the configuration shown.
Now set the coconuts on top of the cups to drain with the two holes positioned over the cup. The cups I chose were actually a little too small and overflowed a bit, so use the largest cups you have. The coconuts will drain very quickly!
Drink up now, or cover and refrigerate the coconut water to save it for later.
Step 3: Saw & Serve
Saw the drained coconut near the bottom of the triangular point. No need to saw all the way through, the hermit crabs will enjoy cap "doors" for their castle.
Stick a spoon inside and serve to your friends. Apologize for not cleaning the saw better.
There's nothing like the taste of a fresh young coconut. For those who haven't had one, it's nothing like the taste of shredded coconut you find in the baking isle.
Step 4: Let the Hermit Crabs Finish the Job...
When you've enjoyed as much as you can of the delicious coconut, put it inside your crabitat and let your hermit crabs enjoy it for the night. They will climb inside and pick the flesh from the walls. The presence of the coconut will be very stimulating to them, and fun to watch.
Step 5: Scrape & Bake
The next morning remove the coconuts from the crabitat. Use a spoon to scrape away as much of the remaining flesh as you can. You'll get to a woody layer that is hard to scrape.
Use a knife to make gashes in the fiberous white husk, especially near the base. This will help them dry more quickly in the oven.
Bake the coconuts on a cookie sheet at 300 degrees for 5 hours. If the husk still feels squishy and looks white, bake an additional hour and a half at 350 degrees. Monitor frequently during the last hour.
Step 6: Drill Holes
- a drill
- craft wire
- pen or sharpie
Step 7: Bind the Coconuts
Starting with the top coconut, thread about 1.5 feet of craft wire through the holes from the inside of the coconut.
Next, thread one of the tails through a hole in a bottom coconut from the outside. Thread the wire out through the second hole. Repeat for the other side.
Flip the coconuts over and pull the wire taught with the remaining tails. When it's tight to your satisfaction, cross the tails and tuck the edges so they're not pointing out.
Step 8: Present the Castle
- I was able to cut the dirty looking parts off of the coconuts using a serrated knife before putting them in the crabitat.
- Your crabs will eat the coconut little by little, from both the outside and the inside even after it's baked.
- If you can't find anyone to eat coconuts with you, you can freeze the cleaned coconut shells until you're ready to bake a few at once.
- Coconut castle too complex? Crabs will love a single coconut just as well, I have several of those in my crabitat.
- Baking the coconuts to remove the water is very important. If they don't dry completely they will quickly mold inside your moist crabitat. Check the bottoms for mold every few weeks during the first few months.