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Hermit Crab Care Guide for Beginners

Hermit Crab Care Guide for Beginners

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

Buying hermit crabs as pets could be an amazing idea. You might be interested in these pets because you’ve seen friends buy them.

Perhaps you’re wanting to get some pet hermit crabs sometime soon. Before you go out and buy hermit crabs, it’s wise to learn more about them.

You should learn a bit about their care requirements so you can be sure that you’re up to the task. Whenever you buy a new pet, it’s important to know what you need to do to help them thrive.

Keep reading to learn everything that you need to know about hermit crab care. This should help you to have the best experience possible when caring for hermit crabs as a newcomer.

Are Hermit Crabs Easy to Take Care Of?

Pile of Land Hermit Crabs and Shells

Yes, land hermit crabs are generally quite easy to care for. This is one of the reasons why they’re considered to be great pets.

When compared to many other pets, they’re relatively low-maintenance. You don’t need to constantly do things to keep the hermit crabs alive and happy.

This doesn’t mean that you can ignore them, though. There are things that you need to do to keep the hermit crabs safe.

For example, you need to set the tank up properly. It’s also important to monitor the tank to ensure that the conditions are appropriate.

To add to this, you need to keep the tank clean. If you don’t, the hermit crabs could wind up getting sick or dealing with infections.

None of this should make you shy away from owning hermit crabs. These are just basic responsibilities that won’t be that tough to manage for most people.

You will need to have a bit of time to dedicate to doing maintenance on the tank. Other than that, caring for hermit crabs is simple.

Anyone who wishes to own pets that are easy to care for will love hermit crabs. They’re not going to take up too much of your time and it’ll be fun to own them.

Hermit Crab Temperature

Digital Climate Control Thermometer for Tropical Pet Terrarium

In the wild, hermit crabs live near beaches. They can be found in warm areas where it never gets too cool at night.

These creatures are coldblooded, and that means that they can’t regulate their body heat. They can’t warm themselves up like mammals.

Since hermit crabs are cold-blooded invertebrates, they’re going to need to be kept in warm environments. If you don’t monitor the temperature in the tank, the hermit crabs could be in danger.

You’re supposed to keep the hermit crab tank rather warm. It should stay between 72 degrees Fahrenheit and 84 degrees Fahrenheit.

The temperature should always fall somewhere within this range. Remember that you don’t want the temperature to dip too low.

When hermit crabs are exposed to cooler temperatures, it’ll cause them significant stress. It can even make them get sick if they’re continually exposed to low temperatures.

Often, hermit crabs will lose some of their legs if they’re exposed to temperatures that are too cool. So you need to be careful.

If the temperature dips below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, the hermit crab could outright die. Needless to say, this is something that you must avoid.

Likewise, temperatures that are too hot for hermit crabs won’t be good. When the tank gets very hot it’ll cause the hermit crab to dry out.

It won’t be able to breathe properly if it dries out. So temperature regulation is imperative.

You should install some type of heater in the hermit crab’s habitat. This will allow you to keep the tank warm enough, and it’ll remain steady without fluctuating.

Buy a thermometer for the tank, too. This allows you to easily see what the temperature inside the tank looks like at a glance.

Hermit Crab Humidity

Natural Sea Sponges in Baskets at an Outdoor Market

Humidity is another important consideration. If you’re not monitoring the humidity level in the tank, there’s a chance your crabs could be in danger.

Hermit crabs must live in humid environments. Humidity is important because hermit crabs can’t breathe if the air is too dry.

You see, hermit crabs have modified gills that allow them to breathe on land. They can breathe oxygen using their modified gills, but this is only possible if the gills remain moist.

In the wild, hermit crabs live in tropical areas where things are rather humid. When keeping them as pets, you’re going to need to replicate those humid conditions.

Hermit crabs should do fine if the humidity stays between 70% and 80%. It’s best to keep it somewhere close to 80%.

This is not going to be easy to achieve if you’re not using a humidifier or some type of fogger. So it’s recommended to just buy a humidifier for the tank so you can keep the hermit crabs safe.

There are other methods to increase the humidity in a hermit crab’s habitat. You can mist the tank regularly to raise the humidity level.

Placing wet natural sponges in the tank can also work. It’s simply safer and easier to use a humidifier so that you can know everything will be okay.

It’s also wise to measure the humidity level in the tank using a hygrometer. Install a hygrometer in the tank so you can always check the humidity level easily.

Position the Tank Properly

Land Hermit Crabs in a Terrarium With Sparse Light Filtering In

Positioning the tank properly is another important thing to focus on. Putting the tank in a bad spot will put your hermit crabs in danger.

Firstly, you should know that hermit crabs can’t be in direct sunlight. If you position the tank too close to a sunny window, the tank might get hotter than it’s supposed to.

Also, bright lights bother hermit crabs. Hermit crabs are nocturnal and they like to hide from the light during the day.

Accidentally putting the hermit crab’s tank next to a vent would be bad as well. You want to keep the tank far away from heating vents, air conditioning units, and drafty windows.

You don’t want to cause the temperature to fluctuate in the tank. Do your best to find a safe spot where everything will remain stable.

Noisy rooms aren’t good for hermit crabs either. They get bothered by excessive noise and it has been known to cause them stress.

You also want to keep hermit crabs separate from any pets that might scare them. This means keeping the tank in a room that can’t be accessed by cats or dogs.

Take the time to choose a perfect spot for the hermit crab’s habitat. Your hermit crab will be much better off if you do so.

Feeding Hermit Crabs

Hermit Crab Crawling Toward Carrot

Feeding hermit crabs isn’t all that hard, but they can get bored if you try to feed them the same food over and over again. Hermit crabs are omnivorous, and they’re known as scavengers in the wild.

Hermit crabs comb the shore and eat various things. They’ll eat insects, dead fish, plants, and all sorts of other stuff that can be found on a typical beach shore.

When feeding hermit crabs in captivity, you want to do your best to give them a varied diet. They need to eat many different things so they will stay interested.

Many people choose to give hermit crabs pelleted food consistently. Hermit crabs do tend to like this, but you may need to give small hermit crabs powdered hermit crab food instead.

Normal-sized crabs can eat pelleted food without it being an issue. You then supplement the pelleted food with veggies and fruits.

Hermit crabs love veggies such as spinach, kale, lettuce, and carrots. They also love fruits such as bananas, papaya, and mangoes.

Always wash fruits and veggies carefully using distilled water. You want to protect your hermit crabs from harmful chemicals because they’re very sensitive.

Hermit crabs only need to be fed once per day. They like to be fed during the late evening hours or at night.

Remember that they’re nocturnal creatures. It’s normal for them to want to eat when it’s dark.

Providing Hermit Crabs With Water

Hermit Crab Climbing Out of Water Dish in Terrarium

You need to ensure that your hermit crabs have constant access to water. Water is very important for survival purposes.

Hermit crabs do many different things with water. They drink the water, but they also submerge their bodies in water regularly.

This is done for cleanliness purposes, but it also helps them to keep their gills moist. Thus, you need to provide hermit crabs with at least two shallow water dishes.

One water dish should contain freshwater and the other should contain saltwater. Both dishes need to be just deep enough so the hermit crab will be able to submerge itself completely.

Hermit crabs can’t breathe underwater, though. So you need to make sure that it’s easy enough for the hermit crab to get back out of the water when it’s done.

This is why the water dishes are supposed to be shallow. Also, many people choose to buy water dishes that have convenient ramps attached to them.

Hermit crabs will store water in their shells, too. They will use this water to keep their gills moist, and sometimes they might drink the water.

You need to make sure that you have shallow water dishes for hermit crabs. If you don’t, they’re not going to do well in your tank.

Cleaning the Hermit Crab Tank

Hand Holding Gallon Jug of Distilled Water

Cleaning the hermit crab tank is another thing that you should focus on. Hermit crab tanks can get pretty dirty if you don’t take the time to tidy things up.

The best thing to do is to do a bit of cleaning each day. You can keep things from getting overly dirty if you choose to do some spot cleaning daily.

Remove fecal matter from the tank when you spot it. You should also be sure to remove bits of leftover food.

Since hermit crab tanks are so humid, food that’s left in the tank will start rotting fast. Rotting food will create bacteria and can cause mold to grow in the tank.

Also, the rotting food sometimes attracts pests such as mites. Mites can really bother hermit crabs, and you want to avoid such problems.

Doing some daily cleaning will make a difference. However, you should do larger cleaning sessions as well.

Some people do slightly bigger cleaning sessions weekly. They wipe the tank down a bit during this time.

It’s likely best to do huge cleaning sessions once per month. During this time, you can put your hermit crabs in a temporary tank while you clean the main tank.

This will allow you to wipe the tank down using distilled water. You can also clean the sand, wipe down decorations, and boil replacement shells to purify them.

The sand is going to need to be replaced every so often. It’s recommended to replace the sand four times per year.

So every three months you can get rid of the old sand and add new sand to the tank. Always ensure that the hermit crabs have more than enough sand.

Hermit Crabs Need Friends

Closeup of Two Small Hermit Crabs in a Person's Hand

It’s important to understand that hermit crabs are social creatures, too. You shouldn’t buy just one hermit crab.

Hermit crabs have the potential to become very stressed when kept alone. You’re meant to keep hermit crabs in pairs or small groups.

Sadly, hermit crabs can get so stressed from living alone that they will die. In a sense, hermit crabs can die of loneliness.

Now that you know this, it’s easy to see why you must buy multiple hermit crabs. When buying hermit crabs, it’s always best to get at least two for the tank.

You need to make sure that you buy hermit crabs that belong to the same species as well. Don’t buy hermit crabs that are a different species because they might not get along.

It’s also important to make sure that the tank that you buy is large enough to accommodate the crabs. For every two hermit crabs that you purchase, it’s best to have five gallons of space.

So a 5-gallon tank will be fine for a pair of hermit crabs. A 10-gallon tank will work out best for a group of three or four hermit crabs.

This information can change a bit depending on the size of the crabs, too. Some hermit crabs are going to be a bit bigger than others, and this means that they will require more space.

Be sure to put multiple replacement shells in the tank, too. Hermit crabs will sometimes fight over shells if they’re scarce.

Keep many replacement shells in the tank and multiples of the same size. It should help to prevent fighting over shells.

How to Play With Your Hermit Crab

Land Hermit Crab Climbing on Stalk of Plant

Hermit crabs like to play with each other, but they don’t play much with humans. So it’s not really possible to play with a hermit crab in a traditional sense.

It is good to buy toys for the hermit crabs in the tank. Hermit crabs like having access to climbing toys.

Climbing is something that all hermit crabs enjoy doing. You should have little ropes, logs, and rocks that the hermit crabs can climb on.

You can arrange them in fun ways that will keep the hermit crabs enthused. They will often play and interact with each other in the tank.

It’s fine to handle your pet hermit crabs occasionally, but you must do so carefully. This is a stressful experience for hermit crabs, and it’s possible that it can be a dangerous one as well.

You must pick hermit crabs up carefully. Grab the hermit crab by its shell and lift it up only an inch or two off of the ground.

Put your non-dominant hand under the hermit crab to give it a spot where it can rest its legs. Then you can allow the hermit crab to walk on your hand.

The hermit crab might get scared sometimes and pinch you. Don’t react strongly to this.

It’ll let you go if you offer it some food in the opposite direction of where it’s pinching you. Honestly, it’s better not to handle hermit crabs too often since it’s a stressful thing for the crabs.

Excessive handling can lead to great stress which will lead to various health problems. Keep this in mind and only handle your hermit crabs when necessary.

How to Take Care of Baby Hermit Crabs

Baby Hermit Crab in the Palm of a Hand

Taking care of baby hermit crabs is not too different from caring for adult hermit crabs. Juvenile hermit crabs will be far smaller than mature hermit crabs.

You might need to feed them small foods such as hatched brine shrimp and powder hermit crab food. It can take a while for them to grow, but once they get larger, they can be cared for the same as any other hermit crabs.

Typically, people buy hermit crabs from the stores when they’re already mature. So you won’t likely be caring for baby hermit crabs.

To add to this, it’s nearly impossible to breed hermit crabs in captivity. Very few people have had success with this.

Hermit crab mating involves releasing eggs into the ocean. It’s not something that’s easy to replicate at home.

So you don’t need to worry too much about caring for really young hermit crabs. Just know that small juvenile hermit crabs might need smaller types of food to be able to eat properly until they grow larger.

Hermit Crabs and Chemicals

White Vinegar in a Glass Bottle With Other Cleaning Supplies

Hermit crabs are very sensitive to chemicals. This is something you must keep in mind at all times.

When cleaning the hermit crab’s tank, you never want to use chemical-based cleaners. Truly, it’s best to just wipe things down using distilled water.

If you need a more powerful cleaner to cut through grime on the tank walls, it’s okay to use white vinegar. White vinegar mixed with warm distilled water can create a potent cleaning solution.

You can then rinse the tank well with distilled water before allowing it to dry. This is safe for the hermit crabs.

Even tap water needs to be avoided. When you’re filling the shallow water dishes for the hermit crabs, it’s important not to use tap water.

Tap water often contains traces of chemicals such as chlorine and fluoride. Chlorine can easily kill hermit crabs by suffocating them.

Hermit crabs simply cannot handle chemicals. So you have to look out for them to keep them safe.

If you don’t do a good job of keeping chemicals at bay, your hermit crabs won’t live long. So try your best to keep chemicals in mind when cleaning the tank and filling the water dishes.

How Long Will Hermit Crabs Live?

Hand Holding Large Hermit Crab

Hermit crabs can live for quite some time. Depending on the species of hermit crab that you own, it might live as long as fifteen years or so in captivity.

Some hermit crabs don’t live that long, though. There are hermit crabs out there that only live between five and seven years with optimal care.

If you want a long-lived hermit crab, it’d be best to seek out some of the best options. Of course, no hermit crabs will live for very long if you don’t meet their basic care needs.

Final Thoughts

This information should give you a much better idea of how to care for hermit crabs. Hermit crabs can live for quite some time if you care for them well.

You simply need to meet their basic care needs. They aren’t hard to care for, but it will take some effort to keep your pets in good health.

Monitoring the humidity and the temperature of the tank will be crucial. If you don’t do this it’ll be easy for the crabs to get sick and possibly die.

You need to keep the tank clean so that everything will stay safe, too. It’s best to do a bit of cleaning each day and then do larger cleaning sessions every month.

Make sure that you feed your hermit crabs a balanced diet. They only need to be fed once daily, but you should make an effort to mix up the things that you’re feeding them so they don’t get bored.

Be wary of chemicals since they can easily kill hermit crabs. Never give a hermit crab tap water since that has the potential to kill the crab fast.

You always want to use distilled water or dechlorinated water when cleaning the tank. This is the type of water that hermit crabs should drink and bathe in, too.

Buy at least two hermit crabs for your tank. Hermit crabs are social creatures that aren’t meant to live alone.

Now that you know the basics of caring for hermit crabs it’ll be easier to make wise choices. Do your best to care for your hermit crabs and you’ll have a good experience.