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Hermit Crabs

Updated on May 17, 2012
Hermit Crab with Shell.
Hermit Crab with Shell. | Source
Click thumbnail to view full-size
The first time a crab walks on your hand may feel strange, but it is a neat experience.The shells can be so pretty as well.
The first time a crab walks on your hand may feel strange, but it is a neat experience.
The first time a crab walks on your hand may feel strange, but it is a neat experience. | Source
The shells can be so pretty as well.
The shells can be so pretty as well. | Source

Indonesian Zebra Sunset Land Hermit Crab

I thought this one was so neat, with the zebra type markings on its legs.  I never had one like this.
I thought this one was so neat, with the zebra type markings on its legs. I never had one like this. | Source

Hermit Crabs - Interesting Creatures and Pets

Some Facts about Hermit Crabs

Hermit crabs are such interesting little creatures! Since a young child, I have always been curious about them, and even had some as pets for several years. Hermit crabs are different from other crabs in a few ways. They have a narrow body, with a long and soft abdomen area. The exoskeleton of the hermit crab is only on part of its body. The rest of the softer part is underneath the shell in which it makes its home at times. Thus, providing a sort of unique exoskeleton all its own!

The scientific name for hermit crabs is dardanus and other genera. You will find these little guys all over the world. Sometimes they can be referred to as land crabs or tree crabs. Generally speaking they are one inch across in size, though I have had much larger ones.

Protection for the Hermit Crab

Hermit crabs help to protect themselves by backing up into a mollusk shell, an empty one to be exact. Its a strange thing to see a hermit crab without its shell, but I have seen them numerous times. Their "tail" area, or abdomen is curved so it can easily get into a mollusk shell. It looks very strange if you have never seen it before. They do tend to feel vulnerable and rightly so, when they don't have a shell on.

One of the neat designs to the shape of the crab is how it closes up into its shell. The way the hermit crabs legs lay, is perfect for putting up a good front from a would be attacker, or hungry predator.

As one can imagine, these crabs do grow and they will periodically leave their old home to search for a new one. When it is time to find a new home, it will look around for a perfect shell to call home, and then try it out, or try it on for size. They use their claws in this process of finding a new shell, and when it finds that perfect shell, it quickly makes its move.

As you can imagine, finding a new home is literally a matter of life and death for the hermit crab. Fights among hermit crabs have been known to happen if shells should be in short supply.

Hermit Crabs as Pets

While my favorite place to observe hermit crabs is in their natural setting, especially in tide pools, they can be fun pets. I would recommend that a child really think about caring for such a pet, and knowing full well in advance what it takes to give one a good home. Then its an enjoyable experience for all involved. When I get back to the beach, to the tidepools, they are so fun to see crawling around in shallow water and on the rocks. Keep an eye out for them if you go to places like these.

I recall getting my first hermit crab as a child. It was an amazing and very exciting day! My mother had taken me to the pet store, and I believe this was for my birthday one year. There was a very large, fairly shallow glass bowl that was perfect for these crabs. There are some basic needs you will want to have when owning a hermit crab.

Gravel and or sand, for the bottom of the bowl or aquarium.

Lots of different shells with different varieties.

Water in a shallow dish or something like the lid of a jar.

Hermit crab food in a shallow dish. You can find little containers of hermit crab food. This is great when you are gone for a period of time.

A Spray bottle on occasion, filled with water for dry spells.

Food for a hermit crab, scavenger style. You can use vegetables like lettuce and other creative ones. Get creative but clean it back out if they don't like what you have given them, as you don't want it to go bad.

Sticks that go from one side to the other of the container they are in. Being tree crabs, they know how to climb a sturdy and sufficiently strong stick.

Little decorations, which can be more shells, or anything cute you want within reason.

Tips on Holding Hermit Crabs

Don't hold these crabs in your hands if you are jumpy or very worried they are going to pinch you. Make sure anyone else handling the crabs knows to not jump or panic. You don't want to drop him.

Hold your hand out flat as the crab comes out to say hello to you. They can't pinch taut skin!

Don't over handle these crabs, and don't hold them as they are hanging out of their shell, and by the shell.

If a hermit crab does emerge from its shell in your hand, take time to notice the unique colors, and eyes of these creatures. Even with a huge pincher, they usually just tickle you when crawling across your hand.

Finally, my personal experience with these kinds of crabs show them to be fun, active and interesting pets. One of the things I recall, was hearing them at night clanking their shells around as they were looking for new ones. In the dark, is when they feel the most safe and least threatened, since they are exposing their soft parts then.

© Copyright 2012 by Oceansnsunsets. All Rights Reserved.

A Hermit Crab Changing its shell

Hermit Crab Poll

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Hermit Crabs from tide pools


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    • oceansnsunsets profile image

      Paula 5 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Hello Dyhannah, thank you very much! I appreciate your visit to my hub and your comment. Have a great weekend ahead.

    • Dyhannah profile image

      Dyhannah 5 years ago from Texas

      Neat hub about hermit crabs and cool video.

    • oceansnsunsets profile image

      Paula 6 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Hi Pamela, I am so glad you enjoyed it! I think they are unique little creatures that are cute too. Thanks for your kind words and comment. Have a great weekend ahead.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

      I really enjoyed reading about the Hermit crabs. I think they are cute. Excellent hub, interesting and useful.

    • oceansnsunsets profile image

      Paula 6 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Hello Fennelseed, thank you, I am glad you found the information interesting! I hope you get to see some when next at that beautiful coast where you are! The ones I saw at the coast were rather tiny, and at low tide if that helps at all. Some were not so tiny, but not many like the size I show here.

      I am so glad you enjoyed it, that makes my day! Thanks for your votes and great comment. :) Have a lovely day and weekend ahead.

    • oceansnsunsets profile image

      Paula 6 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Hello Nightsun, I think so too, though at first glance they might not be so cute to some people! Thank you for your comment, I appreciate it.

    • Fennelseed profile image

      Annie Fenn 6 years ago from Australia

      This hub is fascinating, I didn't know a lot about hermit crabs before, but I will sure be looking out for these little guys when I am next at the coast. I love the careful manoeuvring of the crab into his new shell, and so swift as to minimise being vulnerable.

      Excellent information sharing hub, thank you so much for such an enjoyable time. My best wishes to you OSSTS, my votes and sharing!

    • nightsun profile image

      nightsun 6 years ago from northern california

      They're cute in their own sweet way...

    • oceansnsunsets profile image

      Paula 6 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Hi Mary, I think these crabs are fascinating also. I thought later, how odd it must seem that when I was a little girl I loved these as pets! I was a tom boy in a lot of ways I think, loved climbing trees and being out in nature all the time. I still love that to a degree! :)

      They make great pets for those that aren't kind of creeped out by their appearance or large claws. On a big hermit crab, their one large pincher can get very big! They are gentle creatures however. Thank you for your comment Mary, and have a great day.

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 6 years ago from Florida

      These are fastinating creatures, I must say. They don't look too appealing to me as a pet. My neighbor had a couple and I used to tease her about her pets, but she loved them and was always looking for larger shells for them as they outgrew their old home.