Feed hermit crabs Hermit Crab Meal
daily, along with occasionally offering shredded fruits and vegetables. Always use dechlorinated water, not tap water (use a water conditioner
). Misting daily is also recommended. Hermit crabs may drop their legs or claws if they become too dry. Humidity must be added to their cage in the form of water/misting. We recommend misting your crab every day, as some will not drink from standing water bowls. We recommend Tropical Mist
for use on crabs. This product helps replace essential minerals and add some humidity to the crab's environment. It can be sprayed directly on the crab.
Along with freshwater, brackish water should be offered also in a separate dish. To make the water brackish add aquarium salt
. Use 1/4 cup of salt per gallon of dechlorinated water.
Variety is the key to a good hermit crab diet. Crabs are scavengers and will eat just about anything. Vegetables are best, along with a diet of commercial hermit crab food, dry cereal, fruits and even popcorn! Hermit crab food should be present every day. Fruits and vegetables should be offered several times a week. When offer and shredding fresh foods, keep the piles of food separate so the crabs can smell all the different foods being offered.
Add calcium to their diet by crushing egg shells or using a calcium supplement
All hermit crab substrate should be a moist soil mixture
. Hermit crabs need to burrow into a moist substrate when molting.
Hermit crabs do well in a wire cage
or a tank
with lots of climbing furniture
. In some households, cages may become too cold in the winter. Try using a warmer wattage bulb
and partially enclosing the sides of the cage with Plexiglas attached with wire hooks. Crabs should experience a tropical environment all year round. Below 50º can be fatal. The best temperature
is 70 to 85º.
Heating & Lighting
Above 60 and below 90 degrees is recommended. Best temp. is between 70 and 85 degrees on one end of the enclosure. Use of an “under the tank
” heater and possibly a fluorescent light
is important to the health of your crab. The warmer the cage, the more active they will become. The fluorescent light on top should only be used during the daytime hours and should only be a 2.0 or 3.0 output. This light will allow the crabs a natural sense of night and day and also give off beneficial ultraviolet rays
Keep checking the temperature inside the cage - these animals do require a small amount of heat in order for them to function normally. Not providing them with the proper heat may result in the crab staying in a dormant state and eventually failing in health. Keeping one too warm can also cause problems.
As with all animals, please wash your hands after handling.
Do not attempt to handle your hermit crab when you first take it home. It is best to allow several days for your hermit crab to adjust to its new home. Once you see the crab eating and drinking for a few days, you can begin handling your crab for short amounts of time.
Hermit Crab Pinches
Hermit crabs do not actually bite, but their pincers can be very powerful, especially if they grab onto a loose piece of skin! One of the best ways to release a stubborn pinching crab is to run the crab under water and to open the pincers with tweezers.
Loss of Legs or Claws
Chemical fumes such as paint or insecticides can cause the crabs to lose their legs and claws and can eventually kill the crabs. Keep crabs away from fumes - even those as common as paint fumes can be deadly.
What To Do if a Crab Comes Out of Its Shell
A crab who comes out of his shell and does not return is usually experiencing excessive stress or dryness. One important thing to do is to mist the crab with de-chlorinated water to rehydrate the crab. Clean an empty shell
with water and dip the abdomen of the crab in water-gently push the abdomen end into the shell. Tap the crab gently on his head so he backs into the shell. If the crab comes back out of the shell again, separate him from other crabs as he is very vulnerable and watch him closely for several hours, reviving him with mistings.
Hermit crabs are not good at swimming, so always use a shallow water dish
. Make sure the water does not contain chlorine. Allow the water to sit for 24 hours or use a de-chlorinator
to remove the chlorine. We do not recommend the use of a sponge for water because the constantly wet and dark sponge could harbor bacteria.
Your crab will need to molt about once a year, shedding its outer skeleton. Most times, the crab will burrow itself into the moist soil and remain there for several days. Make sure your soil is kept a little damp at all times to provide the crab with the necessary humidity to complete its molt.
Hermit crabs generally live five to twenty years as long as they can find shells large enough to live inside. With proper care they will live a long time. If your crab becomes inactive it may be due to lack of humidity or lack of proper temperatures. Temperatures around 70-80º do best for keeping the crabs active.
It is important to provide extra shells in the cage at all times so your hermit crab can change shells. If another suitable shell is not found the crab may wander around without any shell and he may fight with another crab for ownership of the his shell.
Hermit crabs usually do best in colonies, and although they can be territorial, they usually will not fight in large groups. Having only two or three crabs is usually more difficult. One crab will always be dominant over the others.
Did You Know?
Mating of hermit crabs is almost unheard of in captivity.
Hermit crabs mate on land, but the female carries the eggs attached to tiny limbs on her abdomen back to the edge of the ocean. The waves carry the eggs out to sea. The tiny young, which look like tiny shrimp, hatch as larvae and are then swept into the plankton.
When they have reached the right stage, hermit crabs drop to the sea floor and metamorphose into their bottom dwelling form. They must then immediately find a small snail shell for protection. Soon after some growth, they climb to land, where they live the rest of their lives as land hermits.
Many of our customers call stating that their crabs have had babies, when in fact the “babies” they are noticing are external parasites which may have hatched out of the food.
Males are distinguished by the presence of tufts of hair concealing openings on the first segment of the last pair of legs. The males also lack appendages on the abdomen. Females have bare openings on the first segment of the third legs (no hair) and three forked appendages on the left side of the abdomen for this attachment of eggs. Without seeing the crab out of its shell, it is difficult to distinguish genders.
If you have any questions, please check out one of our fine informational books or call us in the Reptile room at (717) 299-5691. Enjoy your new pet.
Hermit Crabs can live 20 or more years if kept properly and if they can find large enough shells. They tend to be social animals, thus making it beneficial to have more than one hermit crab, if cage space allows.