Hermit Crab Care

If you're looking to adopt an unusual and entertaining pet, you might want to consider a hermit crabor several! These creatures are remarkably social, and when cared for properly, they can live for several decades, believe it or not. Hermit crabs are friendly, intelligent, and hypoallergenic (so you won't have to worry about any sneezing fits), and if you're not bothered by its nocturnal schedule, this could very well be the ideal pet for you. To find out more about caring for these interesting creatures, please read on.

Habitat Interior

The inside of your crab's habitat must remain humid and clean for a long, healthy life. If not already included in your habitat, these are some supplies to get you started.

Additional Supplies

It is important that you change the food and water for your hermit crab once a day. * You may also be interested in purchasing a treat once in a while for your crab. This coconut treat could also be given instead of pellets once in a while. * They also enjoy eating fruits and vegetables. Find your crab's likes and dislikes by leaving some small pieces of fruit in the food dish. Any uneaten portions should be removed after one day. When you add water to the hermit crab's dish, be sure to soak the sponge as well. You may be interested in getting a water conditioner for the drinking water. This removes chlorine, which is harmful to the crab, and adds enzymes to keep the crab healthy. * The water conditioner is also great for bath time. It is healthy to bathe the crab; just submerging the crab in lukewarm water for about two minutes will be enough. * To clean the habitat, you can use a scooper to filter through sand substrate. There may come a time in your ownership of a hermit crab where the crab will molt, or shed is exoskeleton. During this time, it is important for the owner to keep the habitat dark. A hut is a great place for the crab to hide in during this time. * You can leave the exoskeleton in the habitat for a few days, the crab may eat it for additional nutrients. * A crab will also need to move into a new shell after the molt. Molting means the crab is growing, and you may need to give the crab extra space in its shell. A heater will help if you cannot keep your habitat at a warm temperature.

Names to Know

* Zoo Med: Zoo Med gives a hermit crab owner so many choices for fun toys, dishes, houses and food. They extend their expertise outside the realm of the hermit crab, catering to all reptile owners.

Relevant Articles

'''Are You Ready for a Land Hermit Crab?''' !by Vanessa Pike-Russell of The Crab Street Journal Hermit crabs are advertised as cheap and easy to maintain, which is not necessarily true. To keep your hermit crabs happy and healthy, you will need to provide a lot more than food and water. The following is a list of the essential items your pet hermit crabs will need: * '''plastic tanks, which will scratch and will not be able to hold the humidity within the ventilated lids. A glass lid on a glass tank helps keep the temperature and humidity within hermit crab's habitat, allowing for a slight gap for airflow. This airflow of fresh air into the humid environment will help to cut down on mould and bacteria, which can cause illness and even death among hermit crabs, often detected by a musty or ammonia odor. * '''Four Paws and ZooMed. An U.T.H. is used to keep the hermit crabs warm by gently warming the glass floor of the tank, in turn warming the sand. You may need a thermostat with probe to regulate the warmth of the sand at the glass level within your tank if the artificial heating temperature rises above 26ºC or 75ºF. * '''Food:''' It is important to feed a balanced diet, with new foods offered on a daily basis. Hermit Crabs require sources of cellulose, calcium, protein, vitamins and minerals and like to have a variety in their diet. It is important to not rely on one commercial product for their dietary needs. Fresh, organic foods are always the best option. * '''Three Dishes:''' Use nonporous dishes for your fresh water dish, another for your ocean water pond, and one for food. * '''Sea Sponges:''' Natural Sea Sponges are added to the water dish to provide humidity and moisture within your tropical crabitat. Place one in your water dish to minimize spills and maximize humidity. Take care to clean them regularly, squeezing out all the water after rinsing and alternating between two sponges daily. * '''Thermometer:''' A thermometer is used to observe the temperature inside the tank. Thermometers come in three main types: the Hygrometer:''' A hygrometer is used to observe the humidity inside the tank. Just as with temperature, humidity is very important. If the humidity drops and the air is dry, your land hermit crab will have difficulty in breathing through their modified gills, which act as lungs when moistened and correctly functioning. * '''Water Ager/Conditioner:''' Water Ager or Conditioners are very important if the quality of water is not suitable for use with fish in an aquarium. It is important to remove harmful substances from tap water such as chlorine and heavy metals, which can make hermit crabs ill. * '''Ocean Salt:''' A brackish (between fresh and sea water) solution is recommended for the "Ocean Water" pool within your tank. Philippe de Vosjoli recommends 5 tablespoons of synthetic sea salt (such as Instant Ocean) per Gallon of dechlorinated water. '''Optimal Tank Conditions''' !by Stacy Griffith Land Hermit Crabs live in coastal areas, where it is warm and the air is moist and humid. Their gills are modified to allow them to breathe air when it is humid. When the air humidity is insufficient, the gills suffer damage and the crab begins to suffocate. This is does not happen overnight, but over a long period of time. The more the crab is exposed to low humidity, the more it suffers. Suffocation can take weeks or months and is a long, painful death. This is why having proper humidity in your tank is absolutely CRITICAL! The relative humidity should be between 70% -80%. You will need to purchase a hygrometer to monitor the humidity level. The hygrometer should be placed about half way down the inside of the tank, in the center. It needs to be near the level the crabs are living at, but high enough that your crabs can’t pull it down. A lid of some sort is a must for maintaining humidity. Glass, acrylic, Plexiglas or saran wrap can all be used to hold in humidity. Be sure to leave a small opening for air exchange. The tank temperatures should be between 72-80ºF. I say ‘temperatures’ because this is a for a range of temperatures as opposed to a consistent temperature through out. This should be measured at the substrate level, not at the top of the tank. Your crabs are living on the substrate not in the air at the top of the tank. Invest in a good thermometer! Unless you live in a tropical area with mild winters, you are going to need a way to heat the tank. The most common method is a under the tank heater. These are sold for reptiles. They are sold by tank size. Place the heater to one end of the tank. This will allow a cooler zone at the other end if your crabs prefer that. You can purchase a regulator for your UTH so it will maintain a constant temperature by turning itself off and on. Another method is to use an overhead warming bulb. Be careful how you use these so you don’t overheat and kill your crabs. Hermit crabs require cycles of light and dark and should have daily exposure to Sun Glo lamps. I cycle my lights as follows: 12 hours of Sun Glo, 8 hours of Moon Glo and 4 hours of darkness. Your lights may double as your heat source but the '''''light is a MUST''''' and is not a requirement to be ignored. * Offer fresh food and/or commercial food to your crabs, changing it out every other day to prevent mold. With some foods, like fruit the crabs seem to enjoy it better the grosser it gets. Just be vigilant about MOLD! Studies have also proved that crabs will not eat from the same pile of food consecutively. I do NOT recommend FMR foods as they contain ethoxyquin which is believed to be harmful. The FMR treat is the equivalent of hermit crab crack though so feeding it from time to time should not be a problem. * Offer fresh water and salt water to your crabs. This should be changed out daily. Salt water is ocean water and is NOT made with table salt. Table salt will kill your crabs. '''''ALL species''''' require ocean water. * Offer plenty of empty shells, some crabs like to change often. * Offer places to hide and places to climb. * Over time I’ve realized that trying to save money on equipments ends up costing more down the road when I have to replace inferior products. Just something to keep in mind when you are shopping. The FMR caresheets are woefully outdated and ridiculously simplistic. There are many quality hermit crab care sites on the web that offer accurate and current caresheets full of the information you need to keep your hermit crabs happy and healthy!