The Hermit Crab can be found in the Caribbean and on the
beaches of Mexico.
Size and Longevity:
Hermit Crabs can grow anywhere from 2 inches to 6 inches
long and have a lifespan of about 23 years. Some Hermit Crabs
have been known to live for over 32 years when cared for properly.
The Hermit Crab does well in captivity and is tame, but it does
take a constant amount of attention. Like most reptiles, Hermit
Crabs are Nocturnal, which means they sleep during the day and come
out at night. These reptiles require a lot of heat and moisture and
several homes(shells) throughout it's lifespan. Crabs are social
creatures by nature and live longer, healthier lives when in the
company of crabs of the same species.
Habitat and Cage:
Hermit Crabs do not need much space when they are young, but
they do enjoy climbing, and as they grow their environment must be
able to sustain them. The most common size for an enclosure is a 10
or 15 gallon aquarium with at least two water dishes and some things
to hide in. The water dishes should be short and wide to allow access
and keep the water from running dry. Water should be changed daily
to ensure the water is clean and to prevent bacteria from growing.
A moist substrate needs to be provided to create a good humidity
level for your pet and provide them a place to dig. The most commonly
used substrate is about 4 to 6 inches of sand and then an additional 3
to 6 inches of moist peat moss. Hermit crabs need a large amount of
water to survive and a constant humidity level right around 70%. The
terrarium should be set up so that the temperature is between 80° and
85°F and should not be allowed to drop below 78°F or be raised above
85°F at any time.
A low wattage lightbulb is the most suitable lighting for Hermit
Crabs because it helps keep the humidity high while keeping the
terrarium darker. Less light will make the crab feel more confortable
and safe while still providing enough light to see them and enough
heat to create evaporation.
Molting is the process of the crab losing a layer of skin and
growing a new one. This happens approximately once every 18 months
and takes several days to complete. The first signs that a crab is
multing is when it turns a very dull color and/or turns white around
the eyes. During this time, darkness is encouraged and handling
should be limited to little or none. Provide food as normal but keep
the lights low or off, and do not try to peak or disturb the crab if
it is hiding. After the molting process is complete the crab will
eat some or most of it's old skin to gain the calcium and other
nutrients in it. This is natural and should be allowed to happen.
If the exoskeleton is not completely eaten within two days of molting
then it is ok to take it out. For a healthier diet, some people
recommend grinding up the remainder of the exoskeleton and adding it
to the next meal.
There should be several shells of different sizes in the enclosure
for the Hermit Crab to be able to rehome itself after molting.
Not providing an adequate amount of shells can lead to discomfort
which can cause health problems and even death. Most baby Hermit
crabs need an shell with an opening of about 1/4" wide and adults
will need an opening of about 1 1/2" wide. All shells should be
cleaned thoroughly with water (no soap) prior to being placed with
the Hermit Crab.
Hermit crabs will eat just about anything, but should not be
fed everything. Good food sources include fruits such as what they
would find in their natural environment like mangoes, papayas, and
coconuts. Vegetables of all kinds also provide proper nutrients.
They will also eat meats, but the meat must be cooked thoroughly or
your hermit crab may be at risk of health problems. Crabs will not
eat when they are not hungry, so over feeding will not be a problem.
Place a small amount of food in the feeding dish each day and remove
any left-overs from the day before. If there is no left over food
then try adding a little more each day until there is at least a
little left over (under feeding your pet can be deadly).
Handling a Hermit Crab can be confusing and somewhat tricky.
Each crab has it's own attitude and behavior, which at times can be
very frustrating. Handling your crab daily will help it aclimate to
human interaction and may change it's disposition to a more
human-friendly one. Some may always want to pinch or stay tucked
away and then there are others who are always craving attention and
are not shy at all. The best advice is to learn your crab's behaviors
and deal with them accordiingly.