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Hermit Crabs for pets

Updated on November 28, 2013

Hermit Crabs!

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Get a Hermit Crab!

What is an interesting little critter that makes a great low maintenance pet? A Hermit Crab! They are entertaining, fun to watch and even relaxing. You can hold them (carefully, always by the shell), and be their buddy. They are cheap and inexpensive to care for, and kids love them. They like to live with others, so having a few is not difficult nor will it break your bank account! Please consider the care and needs of all living creatures before taking them into your home! All living things deserve to thrive in loving environments and to be properly cared for, a Hermit Crab is no exception!

Cool Hermit Crab facts

  • There are more than 600 species of Hermit Crabs
  • Hermit Crabs have gills, not lungs, but never submerge your crab in water, they can drowned.
  • They are extroverts! Not hermits at all, they thrive in the company of other hermit crabs. So give them a buddy or two. They'll climb over each other for fun and sleep in piles.
  • They must have humid living conditions or they will slowly suffocate. Maintain a minimum of 70% humidity in their cages.
  • They like different shells and will relocate!
  • They love to climb, although not very good at it.
  • They are nocturnal.
  • They molt!
  • They can live as long as 15-20 years if properly cared for!
  • They love fresh fruit, veggies and meat!

A Hermit Crab in a glass shell

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What you need

  • A 10 gallon tank or terrarium with a lid, that can be secured to keep them safe and from accidentally escaping.
  • A heating pad
  • Play sand, preferably enough for them to bury themselves in.
  • A variety of climbing toys (they love to climb).
  • Two water dishes (one for regular water and one for salt water, use sea salt).
  • A water misting bottle.
  • A thermometer and humidity gauge.
  • A moist sponge for them to climb on, clean daily if you use one.
  • Unpainted natural shells without cracks or holes (paint can be toxic if your hermies eat it).
  • A couple of food bowls.
  • Commercial crab food, and fresh fruit, veggies, or bugs for special snacks.

A hermit crab changing shells

Caring for your Hermit Crabs

  1. Set up the tank, preferably away from drafty areas, keep the tank humid and use the heat pad, and thermometer.
  2. Add sand, climbing toys, food, water, and a variety of shells.
  3. Clean the tank monthly, and keep rotten food and waste cleared daily.
  4. Add your pets and leave them a lone for a few days to get used to their new home.
  5. Take good care of them during a molt and consider an isolation tank for this time.
  6. Enjoy your fascinating pet!


Hermit Crab molting

Very important!

Hermit Crabs molt. It is very important to take extra care of them during this difficult time.

How can you tell when your crab is getting ready to molt?

  • Hermit crabs typically molt once every 18 months.
  • They will eat and drink more than usual, before a molt, your crab will store extra fat and water in a small blackish "bubble" that is usually located on the left-hand side of the abdomen, just under the fifth pair of legs. But not all crabs will develop this bubble.
  • They start digging and burrowing under the sand.
  • They will show signs of general tiredness, less antennae activity, and possibly a gray ashy looking exoskeleton.
  • They may also have signs of missing or broken limbs.

When the crab shows signs of molting, the best thing to do is leave him or her alone. Darkness is their friend, and their burrowing must be respected. You can help them by creating a small hole in the sand, the size of their shell and put them in it. They'll cover themselves the rest of the way. Molting is very stressful and takes a lot of their energy, a complete molt can take as long as 6 weeks, sometimes more. One spritz of water over their burrow daily will suffice for care at this time. Once they are molting, don't touch them and don't dig them up, damaging their exoskeleton can very bad for them and even kill them. Digging them up can disrupt this process and prove fatal! So no matter how tempted you are to do it, don't! Also, once they've molted, don't throw away the old skin, they will eat them. They are packed full of vitamins and nutrients your crab needs. Freshly molted crabs will appear smaller until their exoskeleton becomes stronger. If you decide to isolate your crab in another tank during the molt (which is always a good idea), it is safe to return them to their family after they've fully eaten the old exoskeleton and are walking and eating well. Actually, a freshly molted crab should be isolated for their own safety, until they are fully recovered. But remember, they don't like to live alone, so once healthy return them to their crabby families and comfy crabitat.

© 2013 Rebecca

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    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      5 years ago

      They certainly can live a long time: 20 years? Wow! I had these as pets in my preschool classrooms and the children loved watching them. Great information on how to best care for these creatures.

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