Most people, even hermit crab owners, do not know that hermit crabs need to have high humidity. They should be in 70% humidity. Hermit crabs out grow their shell and need to change to a new one as they age. These are not difficult things to provide, but because most people don’t know these two things, their crabs often die.
Hermit crabs can be great pets for responsible children and adults. I recommend them to people who cannot have a larger pets, pets that are expensive or have allergies to pet hair and dandruff. Hermit crabs are fun to watch and you can pick them up as well.
If you have decided to have hermit crabs as a pet, you should first prepare a cage for them so that it is ready when you bring them home. Most cages that are on the market for hermit crabs are not adequate for their needs. The wire cages are cannot hold the humidity they need especially if you live in a dry climate. The plastic containers with the lids with the handles are way too small for hermit crabs. The best cage you can provide for them is a glass tank. Glass tanks are easier to keep the humidity high and come in many different sizes. A 10 gallon is adequate for a couple small hermit crabs and you can go up on size from there based on how many crabs you have and how big they are.
Next you need to get the tank ready for them. Hermit Crabs love to climb and dig. A good substrate for them is coconut fiber, keeps the humidity in and the crabs can burry themselves in it. Provide a couple of inches of substrate in the tank so that the crabs can dig through it. You will also need to provide places for the crabs to hide. Small houses such as half coconut shell work. You can also provide rocks and branches for them to climb. I use tree bark. At a pet store you can also get a coconut fiber wall to place as the background on the tank. They love climbing on this. Provide a water dish. Most people only provide a wet sponge for the crags to drink from, but your crabs will appreciate a dish of water that they can climb into. Provide a dish for feeding as well.
Feeding hermit crabs is easy. There is hermit crab food on the market in the form of pellets and flakes. I have found that they prefer flakes. You can also feed your crabs fish food flakes as well. In the wild crabs are beach scavengers and eat whatever they find. You can provide your crabs with fruits and vegetables to eat as well. Crabs are super easy to feed because they don’t eat a lot. You can latterly give them the scraps left over on your cutting board when you are preparing dinner and they will be happy with those extra treats. Just remember to not feed onions, garlic or anything spicy.
You will need to provide your crabs with extra shells. Shells can be purchased at pet stores, or you can also get them from craft stores. Make sure that different sizes are available in the tank so that your crab can change shells as he grows.
Crabs very rarely come out of their shells. They come out to change shells or when they molt. Some crabs will come out of their shells to poop and some will poop in the shell coming out only every so often to scoop the poop out of the shell.
When a crab molts the entire exoskeleton comes off. If you have ever walked by the tank and suddenly freaked out that your crab died only to realize it just molted, you are not alone! I think it has happened to all of us crab owners!
Don’t forget to keep the humidity up! You can use a humidity gage which can be purchased at pet stores pretty cheap. The humidity should always be above 70%. If you are in an especially dry climate you may need to cover the lid of the tank with a plastic bag or plexy glass. Spray the cage once a day or as needed to keep the humidity up.
And now you know everything you need know to own hermit crabs!
About Animal Care Expert Meghan Arriola
Meghan Arriola is an animal care consultant from Texas that spends her time promoting holistic wellbeing for humans and animals, while also caring for her many pets including dogs, ferrets, reptiles, goats and much more!
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