Hermit crabs are starting to be considered great pets. So many people are turning to these pets in modern times.
They can be a lot of fun because they don’t take up much room. There’s a good chance that you’ll love owning hermit crabs so much that you’ll want more of them.
Is it possible to breed hermit crabs in captivity? How do hermit crabs breed anyway?
Below, you’ll learn everything that you need to know about hermit crab breeding. This should help to tell you what is and isn’t possible when caring for pet hermit crabs.
How Do Hermit Crabs Mate?
Sea water is an important part of the hermit crab mating process. A male and a female hermit crab will meet up on the shore to mate.
The male hermit crab holds onto the female hermit crab with its claw. It will then tap the female hermit crab and pull a bit.
Eventually, the two crabs will partially emerge from their shells. During this time, they touch their stomach areas together and begin mating.
The male hermit crab passes a sperm pack to the female crab during the mating process. This fertilizes the female’s eggs.
The female hermit crab will then lay its eggs in the ocean. Hermit crab eggs hatch in the water, and the hermit crab will go through the early stages of its life in the water as well.
It takes time for a young hermit crab to truly become recognized as a land hermit crab. But once the baby reaches the proper stage, it’ll begin its life on land as a full land hermit crab.
Can Hermit Crabs Have Babies?
Yes, hermit crabs can certainly have babies. As described above, a male and a female hermit crab will mate.
The male passes sperm to the female hermit crab which is used to fertilize the eggs. After this process is finished, the female lays its eggs in the ocean.
Hermit crabs can lay a large number of eggs at once, too. Exactly how many eggs will be laid by the hermit crab will depend on its size.
It’s important for hermit crabs to procreate. The species wouldn’t survive for very long if they weren’t able to do so.
Do Hermit Crabs Lay Eggs?
Hermit crabs do indeed lay eggs. Female hermit crabs lay eggs in the ocean.
After mating with a male hermit crab, the female crab will have its eggs fertilized. It’ll then keep the eggs in its shell for a while.
Earlier, you learned that the female places the eggs in the water. This is true, but it doesn’t happen right away.
A female hermit crab can hold hundreds of eggs in its shell. The eggs remain in the shell as they mature.
When the time is right, the eggs will be hatched in the ocean. The female crab will submerge itself in the water and then pass clutches of eggs into the ocean using its gill grooming legs.
Once the eggs hatch, they aren’t automatically going to be full land hermit crabs. They pass through various stages of life first.
What Are the Stages of Life of a Baby Hermit Crab?
When the hermit crab egg first hatches, a zoea will emerge. The zoea phase is the first phase of life for a baby hermit crab.
A zoea is a type of larva that floats on top of the sea. Often, the zoeae will not survive long due to being eaten by whales and other creatures.
They must survive somewhere between thirty and sixty days. Sometime during this period, the zoeae will evolve into a megalopae.
The megalopa stage is interesting because the hermit crab will look like a cross between a lobster and a hermit crab. It’s so small that you’d need a magnifying glass to observe it, though.
This phase goes on for around thirty days. If the megalopa survives long enough, it’ll walk onto the land and bury itself in the sand so that it can continue to evolve.
It will stay buried in the sand for around thirty days. When it emerges, it’ll be a juvenile hermit crab.
The tiny hermit crab will seek out a shell to protect itself. It’ll use some type of gastropod shell during this time.
When hermit crabs are this small, they molt more often than normal. They grow as they keep molting.
Once it has grown enough, it’ll be considered a mature hermit crab. Generally, a mature hermit crab needs to survive long enough to grow to 3.6mm.
What Do Hermit Crab Eggs Look Like?
If a hermit crab lays eggs, you likely want to be able to recognize them. What do these eggs look like?
When a female hermit crab starts carrying the eggs, they’ll have a brick red appearance. As the hermit crab carries the eggs in its shell, it will start to change its appearance.
The closer that the eggs get to hatching the more they will fade in color. Eventually, the eggs will look gray and they won’t be red at all.
This is normal, and it’s simply a sign that the eggs are about ready to go into the water. As you learned above, the early stages of a baby hermit crab’s life occur in the water.
How Many Eggs Do Hermit Crabs Lay?
Hermit crabs have the potential to lay many eggs. Depending on the size of the crab, there could be hundreds of eggs.
Larger hermit crabs are more likely to lay larger numbers of eggs. There could be hundreds of eggs, but there might even be more than a thousand.
It just depends on the type of hermit crab that you’re dealing with. There are situations where a female hermit crab might produce 5,000 eggs, but it’s most common for hermit crabs to produce fewer than 1,000 eggs at once.
All of the eggs are so small that it won’t be hard for the hermit crab to carry them. It sounds like a much larger burden than it really is.
It’s also important to note that hermit crabs laying a large number of eggs doesn’t mean that thousands of hermit crabs will be born. Many don’t hatch and many more will not survive the first few stages of life.
Where Do Hermit Crabs Lay Their Eggs?
Hermit crabs don’t lay their eggs right away after breeding. Female hermit crabs mate with male hermit crabs.
This fertilizes the eggs so that they can begin the process of getting ready to hatch. The female hermit crab keeps the eggs in its shell during this time.
There will be hundreds of eggs inside of the hermit crab’s shell. Over the course of a month, the hermit crab will care for the eggs.
When the time is right, the hermit crab will go toward the ocean to release the eggs. The eggs are released into the water so they can hatch.
Then the eggs hatch and the baby hermit crab goes through four stages of life. It won’t truly be a hermit crab when it first starts out, but it’ll evolve until it eventually becomes a juvenile hermit crab.
How Many Babies Do Hermit Crabs Have?
How many babies hermit crabs have will vary. It depends on so many different factors.
You already learned that hermit crabs can produce hundreds of eggs at once. Some might even produce over a thousand eggs at once.
This doesn’t mean that all of the eggs will hatch. Some of the eggs simply won’t hatch.
Others will only live long enough to reach the first few stages of life. The number of juvenile hermit crabs that wind up making it to land and living on will be small.
So now you know that very few hermit crab babies survive. How many will survive is impossible to determine.
It could be that dozens survive or it might be that only a couple will survive. You just have to wait and see how things shake out.
How Do Hermit Crabs Reproduce?
Hermit crabs aren’t asexual. This means that they must breed to reproduce.
Breeding requires one male hermit crab and one female hermit crab. The male mates with the female to fertilize the female’s eggs.
The female takes the fertilized eggs and holds onto them. These eggs are kept in the shell for quite some time as they continue to get closer to hatching.
Once the right amount of time has passed, the female releases the eggs into the ocean. Then the first few stages of the baby hermit crab’s life will begin in the water.
How Are Hermit Crabs Born?
Hermit crabs are born after being hatched from eggs. Two hermit crabs must mate to fertilize the eggs.
A female hermit crab produces the eggs and then mates with a male hermit crab. The male hermit crab’s sperm fertilizes the eggs.
The female hermit crab then carries the eggs around until it’s close to the time for them to hatch. Once it’s time, the female releases the eggs into the ocean.
The first few stages of the baby hermit crab’s life occur in the water. It resembles plankton at first, but it eventually evolves and looks closer to a crab.
It won’t be a true land hermit crab until it reaches its fourth stage of life. So hermit crabs go through quite a journey just to become what they are.
Can Hermit Crabs Mate in Captivity?
Generally, hermit crabs don’t mate in captivity. It’s not common for people to breed hermit crabs because setting things up won’t be easy.
As you’ve learned above, hermit crabs go through a somewhat complicated process. Two hermit crabs need to mate and then the eggs need to be deposited in the water.
To breed hermit crabs in captivity, you’d need to find a way to replicate the necessary conditions. For most people, it’ll be totally impractical to breed hermit crabs in captivity.
So if you’re an average pet owner, it’s not even worth considering. Most people just say that hermit crabs aren’t meant to breed in captivity and call it a day.
However, there are those who want to be able to breed hermit crabs in captivity. This can be accomplished, but it’s a bit complicated.
How to Breed Hermit Crabs
Breeding hermit crabs in captivity is possible, but it’s not the easiest thing to do. For most people, it’s not recommended to attempt this, and for the most part is considered to be nearly impossible.
If you want to move forward despite knowing that it’s not going to be easy, you should keep reading. The first thing you need to do is get a breeding pair of hermit crabs.
You Need One Male and One Female
To be able to breed hermit crabs successfully, you need to have one male hermit crab and one female hermit crab. Sadly, it isn’t always easy to tell them apart when you go to a pet store.
Male hermit crabs generally have more body hair than females. This isn’t a 100% reliable way to determine the sex of a hermit crab, though.
The surefire way to identify hermit crab sex is to look at the underside of the hermit crab when it’s out of its shell. This can be hard to do because hermit crabs don’t often leave their shells.
Also, you shouldn’t try to force a hermit crab out of its shell. You could harm your pet or accidentally kill it.
If you get the opportunity to check the hermit crab out, you can identify females by looking for gonopores. The gonopores will look like two small openings near the back of the walking legs.
These small openings are where the sperm goes to fertilize the eggs. If you spot gonopores, you know that you have a female hermit crab.
Now you just need to confirm that you have a male hermit crab as well. Once you know for sure, you can proceed.
Keep Your Hermit Crabs in an Appropriate Habitat
Keeping your hermit crabs in an appropriate habitat is an important part of this process. It’s said that a breeding pair of hermit crabs will do well in a 10-gallon tank.
Make sure that the tank has a lid since hermit crabs are known to enjoy climbing. You also want to make sure that the tank has plenty of hiding spots, logs, rocks, and sand.
The sand needs to be deep enough for hermit crabs to completely submerge themselves. Find a good spot for the hermit crab tank where it’s relatively quiet and the tank won’t be in direct sunlight.
You’ll need to use a humidifier and a heater of some sort to protect the crabs. Keeping the tank hot enough and keeping it humid is essential.
Unhappy hermit crabs won’t be likely to breed. So you need to provide them with an ideal environment.
Breeding the Hermit Crabs
Successfully breeding hermit crabs in captivity involves creating an outdoor environment for them. You need to transfer the crabs to an outdoor environment that is protected and secluded.
The crabs should be more likely to breed if you set things up to make them look natural. It’s said that the best time to attempt this is between January and February.
You want to have a saltwater tank outside where the hermit crabs can lay eggs. There should be one teaspoon of aquarium salt for every cup of dechlorinated water in this tank.
The water temperature should be between 72 degrees Fahrenheit and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. You should hook a pump up to it so that the water is moving.
Build some type of ramp that leads to the saltwater tank. There should be lots of sand outside since this is the natural environment that hermit crabs enjoy.
The ramp will lead from the sand to the saltwater tank. If all goes well, the two hermit crabs will mate.
The hermit crab may try to deposit the eggs in the saltwater itself when the time is right. Otherwise, you need to monitor the female crab.
When you notice that the eggs have a gray appearance, it’s time to get them into the water. You can try to dislodge the eggs from the shell and place them in the water so they can hatch.
This isn’t easy to do and you might cause your hermit crab to experience some stress. It’s another reason why most don’t recommend trying to breed hermit crabs in captivity.
Raising Baby Hermit Crabs
Looking after baby hermit crabs is tough. You learned earlier that they go through four stages of life.
At first, this baby hermit crab will be a zoea that resembles plankton. You need to add plankton food to the water tank to keep the babies alive.
After some time has passed, the hermit crab will evolve. You need to have sand so it can come onto land and bury itself.
Ensure that the shore area has fine-grained sand that the baby hermit crab can utilize. This will allow it to do what it needs to do.
Eventually, it’ll be a juvenile hermit crab and it’ll need a very tiny shell. Small conical shells should work out nicely for hermit crabs that are very small.
Let the hermit crab grow a little bit and then you can transfer it to a normal hermit crab tank when the time is right. This is something that sounds easy, but things don’t often work out well.
Often, the hermit crab babies won’t survive. They won’t even make it to the stage where they resemble hermit crabs sometimes.
It’s very hard to pull this off in captivity. Some people have managed to do it, but it’s not the most practical idea for most people.
Unless you’re a true enthusiast, it isn’t wise to try this. You’ll likely be met with failure.
Also, you might not be able to create an appropriate outdoor environment. To add to this, hermit crabs won’t survive outdoors in many places due to how cold it gets.
So you should take this information with a grain of salt. The ideas presented here can work to breed hermit crabs in captivity, but they by no means have reliable success rates.
Buy More Hermit Crabs
If you want to own more hermit crabs, it’s much more practical to go buy some. Hermit crabs usually aren’t very expensive.
Since getting hermit crabs to breed in captivity is so tough, it’s not likely going to be good to try to breed them. Most people won’t find success and it could be a stressful experience for your pets.
It’s much easier to buy new hermit crabs and add them to the tank. You could also start a completely new hermit crab tank.
Remember that it’s not wise to mix different types of hermit crabs. Ensure that the hermit crabs that you buy belong to the same species if you choose to keep them in the same tank.
Proper Care Matters
Remember that proper care matters when looking after hermit crabs. You want hermit crabs to live for as long as possible.
They can live for quite a few years if you do things right. Some hermit crabs often live ten years or longer in captivity with the right care.
So be sure to work hard to provide a safe environment for your pets. Keep the tank clean and monitor the humidity and temperature closely.
Putting in the effort will allow you to have the best experience. Whether you’re trying to breed hermit crabs or not, it’s important to focus on caring for them.
You’ve learned so much about hermit crabs and their mating behaviors now. Hermit crabs aren’t really meant to breed in captivity, but you can try it if you really want to.
It’s just very hard to pull off, and few hermit crab enthusiasts have been able to find success. Most say that hermit crabs can’t breed in captivity.
Hermit crabs do breed in the wild, though. Male and female hermit crabs mate, and this fertilizes the female’s eggs.
The female holds onto the eggs and keeps them in its shell. Eventually, those eggs are deposited into the ocean.
The early stages of the baby hermit crab’s life will unfold in the water. It’ll go through a larva stage and many other stages before finally becoming a true juvenile hermit crab.
Jeff has always enjoyed having pets, but as a child, he was drawn to his family’s fish tank. Being able to maintain a small ecosystem and observe the behaviors and interactions in the underwater world peaked his interest early on and has kept him hooked until this day. On Avid Aquarist, Jeff shares everything he’s learned about helping aquatic life survive and thrive in a home aquarium.