How to Care for and Feed Hermit Crabs

Hermit crabs make fun and fascinating indoor pets. To care for hermit crabs requires recreating their natural environment as closely as possible. With proper care, hermit crabs make an interesting and inexpensive pet that will live for many years. Some hermit crabs have live for over 20 years in captivity.

Natural Environment of Hermit Crabs
Hermit crabs live inland, away from the ocean and the beach. In the wild hermit crabs eat leaf matter, fruit and other vegetation. They also enjoy chewing on decaying non-resinous wood. Hermit crabs thrive in warm, humid conditions with temperatures ranging from 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

To recreate their natural environment, hermit crabs should be kept in an aquarium with a two to three inch base of sand or pea gravel. Other popular substrates such as cedar shavings or ground corn cobs should be avoided. These tend to absorb moisture and dry out hermit crabs. To maintain proper temperature, and under tank heater can be used. Some tank heaters attach to the sides of the tank. Heat lamps are not recommended as they dehumidify the tank and thus dehydrate the crab.

Hermit crabs enjoy climbing so placing things for them to climb on in the tank helps provide them with a comfortable, stimulating environment.

Hermit crabs require quality water. Place a small, non-metallic dish of water in your hermit crab’s tank. Be sure to place a small sponge in the water dish to keep crabs from drowning and to increase evaporation of water into the tank environment to boost humidity. Water that is safe for fresh-water aquarium fish is suitable for hermit crabs. Bottled, purified water is recommended to properly hydrate your hermit crab.

Bath Time
Hermit crabs should be bathed regularly – once a week in humid, summer conditions, twice a week in dry, winter conditions. To give your hermit crab a bath, submerge them in room temperature water for about a minute, then pull them out and allow them to air dry.

Hermit Crabs are not Hermits
Hermit crabs are social animals in the wild, living in colonies. They communicate with each other by sound and enjoy the company of other hermit crabs. They are non-aggressive, and will seldom fight with each other. Hermit crabs actually do better when they have other crabs to socialize with.

The best food for hermit crabs is commercially prepared food. It is inexpensive and easy to keep fresh. Hermit crabs eat very little so avoid overfeeding. Remove any excess food to avoid spoilage. An oyster shell makes an excellent feeding dish and provides a source of much-needed calcium for your hermit crab.

Hermit crabs can also have occasional treats. A small portion of romaine lettuce, apple, coconut or white bread makes a tasty treat for your hermit crab. As with their regular food, be sure to remove any leftover portions to avoid spoilage.

Shell Game
Hermit crabs love to change shells. As they grow, they need larger shells to maintain proper moisture. Provide a variety of shell sizes for your crab. Make sure you have some shells larger than their existing one to accommodate their growth. To ensure proper shells for your hermit crab, experts recommend using shells that have been properly cleaned and processed by a reputable hermit crab supplier.

Hermit crabs grow by shedding their exoskeleton. During this time keep the tank quiet and extra humid. Make sure they have a place to burrow. If you have multiple crabs, you may wish to isolate your molting crab. They are especially vulnerable at this time, and while crabs are non-aggressive, it is a stressful time for the molting crab.

Handling Hermit Crabs
Hermit crabs are odorless and hypo-allergenic. They carry no known diseases to humans. About the only ‘danger’ they pose may be a pinch during handling, but these can be avoided. To handle your hermit crab, you can place it in your outstretched palm. Watch carefully for the hermit crab’s large claw.

Never attempt to remove the hermit crab from its shell.

With gentle handling, hermit crabs make a fun, inexpensive, allergy-free pet that can offer years of companionship. For more information about hermit crabs, check out

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