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Kathrine Redding, 9, grabbed the hermit crab from its vivarium, held the critter in her left hand and doused it with a spray of water from the bottle in her right hand to coax the crab out of its shell.
Her presentation at the Bartholomew County 4-H Caged Critter Show on Tuesday duly impressed the judge, Sunny Smithson.
“I really didn’t know that much about hermit crabs,” Smithson told Kathrine. “You’ve given me an education.”
Kathrine, who had covered her shoulder-length brown hair with a yellow bandana, confidently stood at the judge’s table, wearing jean shorts, a blue shirt and flip-flops, a red bag for the water bottle on her left side, and a small purse draped over her left shoulder.
As members of the fair queen’s court and about 20 audience members, participants and parents looked on, Kathrine, who is home-schooled, told the judge how her crab, Shelby, eats mango, coconuts, raisins and carrots.
“Does he stay awake at night?” Smithson asked.
Kathrine, in her first year in 4-H, diligently answered the questions and was awarded with a champion ribbon, signifying that she won her age group.
After receiving her ribbon, Kathrine said that she got the idea of showing a hermit crab from her brother David, who got one on a vacation to Myrtle Beach, S.C.
“I really wanted a hermit crab,” she said. “They’re easy to take care of. They’re fun to watch.”
She once had trouble finding Shelby in the enclosure, only to realize that he was hanging from the enclosure’s cover.
She keeps Shelby’s vivarium on a desk in her bedroom, she said, as the crab extended its pincers in the enclosure next to her and grabbed a small cracker with peanut butter.
Participants are judged on how well they know the animals, their presentation and the supporting documentation, said Brenda Shireman, who helped at the show and who works as an office manager for the Bartholomew County Purdue Extension office.
Kaitlyn Knight, 14, smiled when she put her guinea pig, Scruffy, on a small blanket in front of the judge, and Smithson carefully stroked Scruffy’s white fur.
Kaitlyn, her brown hair pulled back in a braid dangling beyond the small of her back, also presented a scrapbook with photos and text, explaining Scruffy’s nightly routine and how she experimented with his diet.
“They’re really friendly and quiet,” she said.
Kaitlyn got involved in 4-H about five years ago through her older sisters.
She keeps Scruffy, 5, in her room and takes him out to play, she said.
He knows when it’s time to go to bed, Kaitlyn said. Around 9 p.m., if the light isn’t switched off, he begins to squeal.
“They’re good pets,” said her stepdad, Kenny Mundy, who eagerly snapped photos of Kaitlyn’s performance.
Kaitlyn won her age group and later was named Reserve Grand Champion.
Megan Tuttle, 15, had shown her red-eared slider turtle, Mr. Daisy, whom she bought in California, in previous caged critter shows, placing as high as Reserve Grand Champion.
This time, the home-schooled Columbus teen took the top prize.
“It’s nice,” she said. “I’ve been trying for five years.”
Megan has participated in 4-H for six or seven years, learning about the competition from another home-school family.
She said she likes showing the turtle because so few appear at the show.
They’re easy to take care of, she said.
Sometimes Mr. Daisy gets it into his mind to redecorate his enclosure, by rearranging the gravel or knocking down a filter, Megan said, but usually he just relaxes.
“He likes baking under his heat lamp a lot,” Megan said.
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