The traveling tale of Prince Clayton Hermie, formerly known as Tom

Local News

Prince Clayton Hermie, formerly known as Tom, made a journey across Crestwood. (Courtesy of Elizabeth Creekmore)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — When Tom made his journey into the wild of the Crestwood neighborhood in Birmingham, he didn’t know he’d soon become a local celebrity and gain a new, royal title. 

Tom, now known as Prince Clayton Hermie, is a hermit crab that was recently found halfway up the side stairs of a Crestwood home.

Tricia McMullen was house-sitting in late July when she went to take out the trash.

“I saw that on the concrete steps to the side door that there was a shell,” she said. “I looked at it more closely, and it was a hermit crab. A really big hermit crab.”

McMullen was confused as to how the crab, which was struggling to get around, had even gotten up the stairs. She put the crab into a tub and gave it water. 

Prince Clayton Hermie, formerly known as Tom, was found halfway up a concrete staircase. (Courtesy of Tricia McMullen)

“I texted the owners of the house and asked them if they knew if their neighbors had a hermit crab.”

They didn’t. McMullen took her hunt for the crab’s owner a step further, posting on NextDoor, a website made for community communication. 

In the hours after her post, McMullen didn’t have much luck finding the crab’s home, but before long, someone new stepped in to save the day.

“If no one claims it, and you aren’t interested in keeping it,” Elizabeth Creekmore, another Crestwood resident, posted about the crab, “I’ll take it! I have had them in the past, and my children would enjoy it.”

The crab had found his new home. Creekmore picked up the crab and brought it home to her three children, each of which got to give the creature a single name. The result was the crab’s new, royal title: Prince Clayton Hermie.

“Named and beloved by the Creekmore children,” Creekmore wrote on the NextDoor site. 

A day later, the mystery of Prince Clayton Hermie’s past began to unravel.

Yet another Crestwood resident, Becky Langner, identified herself as the source of the escaped crab.

“I know you are going to think I’m nuts,” she posted, “but he belong(ed) to my grandsons who were staying with me for the past month. They have moved to Florida and because the crab was MIA, they left his aquarium home.”

Langner also revealed that Prince was formerly known as Tom.

“I’m glad Tom is alive and well,” she said. “It’s amazing he took off like he did and is still alive.”

Langner’s home, where the Prince formerly known as Tom began his journey, was two blocks from where McMullen eventually found him. The trip, even if traveled as the crow flies, would be around a tenth of a mile, no small feat for a crab, no matter how princely. 

Prince Clayton Hermie traveled about a tenth of a mile in the Crestwood neighborhood of Birmingham

Langner was kind enough to offer the Prince’s former home aquarium to Creekmore, his new owner. 

“I have the tank and items that make it look like home,” Langner said. “I’m glad he’s still around. We couldn’ t figure out what happened to him. I’m amazed he’s still alive but happy. My grandsons moved to Florida and now live with cows and great danes, so I’m sure they will have plenty to occupy their time.”

Creekmore took her up on the offer. She has now said the hermit has made its house a home.

“After touring the neighborhood, he’s settled in on 8th Ct S.,” she said. “I’ve had hermit crabs before, years ago, but never one as friendly as this fella. His intrepid and gregarious spirit will take him far (but hopefully not on another neighborhood walk!)”

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