WESTERLY — Dunn’s Corners Elementary School was on the lookout last week after a hermit crab went on the lam for several days.
The crab, named Audrey, usually resides in Amy Walker’s fourth-grade science classroom.
A student gave Audrey to the class last year, and the colorful crustacean with a painted shell seemed content spending its time in a small, clear plastic box with a vented blue lid.
But Audrey actually performed two escapes last week before teacher Rebecca Lamboy found the critter early Friday on the steps of the school’s second-floor central stairwell - perhaps trying to make a break for the main entrance downstairs.
Walker easily found Audrey after the first escape last Monday, around lunchtime. The crab was in a classroom across the hall from Walker’s room.
“The first time I thought someone was playing a prank,” Walker said. “It didn’t seem like she escaped.”
But then the wandering hermit crab was on the move again later that night.
Audrey pushed aside the lid and this time, appeared to vanish for good after a thorough search last week.
“We searched everywhere. Who knows where it roamed around for five days,” Principal Steven Morrone said.
Audrey somehow managed to climb out of the box, down a table and out of the classroom, then travel about 75 feet down a main hall without being seen. Morrone thinks Audrey moved around mostly at night, eluding the occasional staff member or custodian. Most hermit crabs are nocturnal, according to several websites about their care.
Some children were skeptical that Audrey had flown the coop.
“One of my students said, ‘I think Audrey died and you just don’t want to tell us,’” Walker said. “I had to tell her no, she didn’t die and we’ll find her.”
Lamboy found Audrey in the stairwell after hearing a “clunk,” Morrone said. She screamed out “I found the hermit crab,” he said.
“It was before students had arrived so it was quiet, and even I heard that scream from my office down on the first floor,” Morrone said.
Now in a newer, larger glass tank with a roof held in place by a dictionary, Audrey’s roaming days appear to be over. Walker continues to care for Audrey and make sure the crab stays out of trouble.
“She eats shrimp,” Walker said.
Kids in Walker’s classes enjoy seeing their unofficial mascot every day.
“When she escaped we found her on the stairs,” fourth-grade student Hailey Ahern said. “It’s good that she’s back.”