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Do Hermit Crabs Fight? (How to Minimize Attacks)

Do Hermit Crabs Fight? (How to Minimize Attacks)

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This post is written to the author's best knowledge and is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. In addition, this post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Buying hermit crabs as pets should be really neat. So many people are beginning to see these pets as perfect options.

They’re good for people who don’t have a lot of space. Also, they’re not pets that you need to constantly attend to.

Typically, people buy hermit crabs in groups of two or more. So you’re going to be caring for multiple hermit crabs.

It’s good for your hermit crab to have friends in the tank. Do you have to worry about your hermit crabs fighting with each other, though?

Below, you’ll learn about hermit crabs and whether it’s common for them to fight. You’ll also learn what you can do to make things go smoothly when caring for hermit crabs in your home.

Hermit Crabs Do Sometimes Fight

It’s not unusual for hermit crabs to fight sometimes. You see, hermit crabs are known to fight each other in the wild.

This doesn’t mean that hermit crabs can’t get along at all. It just means that hermit crabs sometimes fight when they need to compete over things.

You might be wondering what exactly triggers hermit crab fights. In captivity, the most common thing that causes hermit crabs to fight is shell scarcity.

Hermit crabs see shells as an important commodity. Shells are like homes to these creatures, and it’s important for them to have access to shells that are the right size.

As hermit crabs grow, they’re going to need to change shells. After a hermit crab molts, it’ll need to switch to a new shell that will accommodate its larger body.

This is why you’re supposed to keep replacement shells in the tank. Sometimes two hermit crabs might come into conflict when they each want the same shell.

Later, you’ll get some advice that will help you to keep fighting to a minimum in the hermit crab habitat. For now, just know that hermit crabs fighting doesn’t have to be a huge problem.

This is something that you can deal with. Hopefully, none of your hermit crabs got seriously hurt in the fight.

Are Hermit Crabs Aggressive?

Hermit crabs aren’t normally incredibly aggressive creatures. Most people consider them to be fairly relaxed.

Sometimes hermit crabs will become a bit aggressive toward each other. Often, this is all in good fun, though.

It’s not too unusual for hermit crabs to play with each other. Sometimes they will push each other or do other similar things.

This isn’t necessarily a full-blown hermit crab fight. Granted, there are situations where hermit crabs will use aggression to establish a pecking order.

Like many other types of animals, hermit crabs will compete with each other to establish dominance. This helps to figure out which hermit crab is the boss of the tank, so to speak.

There are a few things that you might see happening when two hermit crabs are trying to establish dominance. You might see the hermit crabs have little fights with their antennae.

Sometimes the hermit crabs will push each other or flick each other, too. You don’t really have to worry about this sort of stuff since it’s something that hermit crabs naturally do.

Do Hermit Crabs Kill Each Other?

Sadly, sometimes hermit crabs will kill each other. This doesn’t necessarily have to happen, but it can indeed occur under certain circumstances.

The most common reason why one hermit crab kills another is over a shell dispute. One hermit crab covets the shell of another and it leads to a big fight.

During these fights, one hermit crab is going to prove to be stronger. The stronger crab may wind up killing the other crab.

A hermit crab might use its claws to rip the other hermit crab out of its shell. It’ll then kill the hermit crab in a fight.

There have even been circumstances where hermit crabs have killed molting hermit crabs by digging them up out of the sand. You can avoid these problems by taking certain precautions.

Do Hermit Crabs Eat Each Other?

It’s not unusual at all for hermit crabs to eat their own dead. In the wild, hermit crabs will consume dead crabs as a way to get the necessary nutrients.

They see dead hermit crabs as just another meal. These omnivores are scavengers that will take whatever they find for a meal.

It’s very common for hermit crabs to eat their dead because dead crabs release a strong scent. The strong scent acts as a beacon that tells the other hermit crabs in the area that a new shell has become available.

Hermit crabs will arrive to check the dead crab to see if the shell is an upgrade or not. They might also choose to eat the dead crab.

Are Hermit Crabs Cannibals?

Hermit crabs are cannibals because they will eat their own kind. They are scavengers that will eat other hermit crabs if they have to.

Sometimes hermit crabs will even dig up molting hermit crabs and eat them. This is a serious problem that you might have to deal with in the tank.

You need to protect molting hermit crabs so they can survive the process. It’s best to put hermit crabs that are about to molt in separate tanks so they can stay protected.

Molting hermit crabs are rather vulnerable. Being disturbed during molting can easily kill a hermit crab.

Are Hermit Crabs Territorial?

Yes, land hermit crabs can become territorial. As mentioned earlier, hermit crabs will sometimes fight to establish a pecking order.

They will also fight if they feel the need to compete for territory. Keeping hermit crabs in small tanks might become a problem.

It’s better for hermit crabs to have more space than too little space. You might see hermit crabs fighting over certain spots in the tank.

For instance, a hermit crab might have a favorite spot in the tank. Another hermit crab might invade that location and it’ll cause a fight to break out.

This is more likely to occur in small tanks. These problems are pretty easy to handle, but they can still be annoying.

Will Different Hermit Crab Species Get Along?

It’s not wise to mix and match hermit crabs from different species. If you’re keeping different types of hermit crabs in the same habitat, that might be the reason why you’re having problems with fighting in the tank.

Hermit crabs from different species won’t get along with each other. Many types of hermit crabs are known to fight with hermit crabs from other species.

Some people say that it’s okay for hermit crabs to live with hermit crabs of other species. Others say that this often leads to increased problems with hermit crab aggression.

To be on the safe side, it’s best to just keep one type of hermit crab in the tank. If you want to own hermit crabs from another species, keep them in a separate tank.

Can Hermit Crabs Regrow Legs?

When hermit crabs fight, it’s possible that they might get injured badly. You already learned that hermit crabs might kill each other when fighting over shells.

They won’t always kill each other, but it’s easy for hermit crabs to get injured. Sometimes hermit crabs will remove each other’s legs during these fights.

The legs might get pulled off when one crab tries to pull the other out of its shell. The claws might also be used to remove legs.

It’s even possible for a hermit crab to lose a claw when it gets in a fight. Sometimes hermit crabs might cut off each other’s eyes as well.

It can get pretty gruesome, and that’s why you want to stop the fighting before it happens. If your crab does get injured, can it regrow its legs?

Yes, hermit crabs can regrow their legs that have been lost in a fight. They can also regrow claws and even eyes.

The eyes don’t always grow back. Sometimes they might not function properly when they do grow back.

Regardless, it’s good to know that hermit crabs can regrow legs and claws during the molting process. It might take several molting sessions for the hermit crab to regrow its appendages completely.

It’s normal for hermit crabs to molt more often when they need to regrow their legs or claws. Normally, hermit crabs molt every twelve to eighteen months, but they will molt more frequently when necessary to restore normal functionality.

How to Stop Hermit Crabs From Fighting

It’s a shame to see your pet hermit crabs fighting each other. This isn’t something that you want to have to deal with, but you need to take this matter seriously.

If you don’t take the right precautions, one or more of your hermit crabs could die. You want your pets to live for a long time, and you also want them to remain happy and healthy in the tank.

Below, you’ll learn about some things that you can do that will help you to keep your hermit crabs safe. If you take these steps, it should help to keep fighting to a minimum.

There could still be minor squabbles here and there, but you can stop seriously dangerous fighting from occurring by being proactive. Once you know what to do, it’ll help you to feel much better about the situation.

Keep Multiple Replacement Shells in the Tank

Since the most common reason for serious fights involves shell disputes, it makes sense that adding more shells to the tank will help. You already know that hermit crabs need to have replacement shell options in the tank.

You might have made the mistake of only putting a few shells in the tank. Ideally, you want to give hermit crabs many different shells to choose from.

Also, you should never put only one of a particular shell in the tank. You should have multiples of the same replacement shell to be safe.

This ensures that hermit crabs won’t have to fight over shells. They can simply get the other replacement shell instead of feeling the need to fight another crab.

If you have three hermit crabs in the tank, it’s best to have three of each shell type. Simply doing this makes it so much less likely that hermit crabs will get into serious altercations with each other.

You can get the replacement shells that you need at pet stores. It’s also easy enough to order shells online and have them shipped to your home.

Always make sure that you’re using natural shells. You never want to buy painted shells because they are very dangerous and bad for hermit crabs.

Ensure That the Tank Is Large Enough

Another thing to focus on is the size of the tank. You don’t want to try to cram too many hermit crabs in a habitat that is too small.

Some people make the mistake of buying a hermit crab tank that is a bit on the small side. Hermit crab tanks don’t need to be huge, but they do need to be large enough to accommodate the number of hermit crabs that you own.

For example, if you have a group of three hermit crabs, a 10-gallon tank is likely going to be large enough. That tank probably wouldn’t be big enough for five hermit crabs, though.

There are many different types of hermit crabs, too. Some hermit crabs are going to be larger than others.

You can buy hermit crabs that stay small and it’s easier to keep them in small tanks. Some crabs might only grow to be a few inches, but others will be six inches or larger.

Always do your best to buy a hermit crab tank that is the right size for your crabs. Keep the growth potential of the crabs in mind so you won’t have to change tanks as the crabs age and grow.

When hermit crabs are kept in small tanks, they will become agitated with each other. They might feel the need to fight over territory if they can’t spread out enough.

It’s easy enough to fix this problem. Now that you’re aware of it, you can make good choices for the sake of your crabs.

Put Hiding Spots in the Tank

Have you considered putting some hiding spots in the tank? It might help your hermit crabs to avoid fighting.

Put little caves and other structures in the tank for the hermit crabs to use. This should help them to get away from each other easier.

Hiding spots alone might not fix problems with fighting. When you combine this advice with the other pieces of advice, it can really help.

If you have hiding spots in a tank that’s big enough, the hermit crabs will likely leave each other alone. You can also keep hermit crabs from feeling the need to seek each other out if you keep them happy by meeting their basic care needs.

Final Thoughts

The information above should give you a good idea of why hermit crabs fight. They generally fight over shells because shells are so important to them.

If you keep more than enough replacement shells in the tank, the hermit crabs will be less likely to fight each other. This is why it’s so important to keep multiples of each shell.

Keeping hermit crabs in tanks that are large enough will be crucial as well. You don’t want the hermit crabs to feel too cramped in the habitat.

Always buy a tank that is big enough for the number of crabs that you’re keeping. You need to consider the size of the crabs as well as how big the crabs will be as they grow.

Don’t make the mistake of not putting hiding spots in the tank. Hermit crabs truly appreciate having hiding spots because they help them to feel safe.

Hermit crabs can use these hiding spots to get away from each other. It should limit the number of conflicts in the tank quite a bit.

When hermit crabs are molting, you’re going to need to protect them. You don’t want molting hermit crabs to get disturbed by the other hermit crabs in the tank.

If you put hermit crabs in isolation tanks before they’re about to start molting, it’ll be easier to protect them. You can tell when hermit crabs are about to molt by looking for various signs.

Now that you know what you can do to stop hermit crabs from fighting and killing each other, it should make you feel much better. These pets can be a lot of fun, but you do need to take the right steps as an owner to keep them safe.

Be sure to let your friends and family know what you learned today, if they’re also interested in hermit crabs. The more people that know how to deal with hermit crab fighting issues the better.

Don’t let this information deter you from buying hermit crabs if you aren’t yet an owner. Hermit crabs generally do get along well and it can be fun to watch them interact.

It’s simply possible for them to fight when the environment isn’t what it needs to be. Now that you know how to fix things, you don’t need to be wary.

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