Hermit crabs are pets that many people think are great. They’re fun because they’re fairly low-maintenance pets.
You can have a good time observing them and they’re not that tough to care for. They do need attention to be able to stay healthy in captivity, though.
If you’re considering buying hermit crabs as pets, you might be wondering how long they live. Do hermit crabs have short lives or long lives?
Read on to learn about how long hermit crabs live on average. You’ll learn about their lifespan in the wild as well as in captivity.
How Long Do Hermit Crabs Live in the Wild?
Wild hermit crabs have the potential to live for a very long time. There is some variance in how long hermit crabs live based on the specific species that they belong to.
However, it’s common for hermit crabs to live for several decades. Hermit crabs have the potential to live for thirty years or longer in their natural habitats.
Some might even live to be near forty. This is impressive and it shows how well hermit crabs have adapted to the environment.
They protect themselves by living inside shells that they find on beach shores. In their natural state, hermit crabs are vulnerable to predators, but they use the protection of shells to their advantage.
The shells that they use are left behind by sea snails. Sea snails that passed away will leave behind shells on the beach, and hermit crabs will live inside those shells to make up for having soft exoskeletons.
Hermit crabs have everything that they need to live well near the beach. They live near warm beaches that are rather humid.
They’re scavengers that will go around looking for food on the beach. They’ll eat insects, dead fish, plants, and many other types of things.
Of course, wild hermit crabs can get killed at any time. Predators can potentially rip them out of their shells and eat them.
However, hermit crabs are good at hiding and detecting threats. So many do an excellent job of staying alive for a long time.
It’s interesting to know that these fascinating creatures can live for so long. It’s just another reason why people find hermit crabs to be extremely interesting.
How Long Do Hermit Crabs Live as Pets?
How long a pet hermit crab will live depends on various factors. People seem to disagree about the average lifespan of pet hermit crabs.
Some enthusiasts say that pet hermit crabs generally live for up to fifteen years. Others say that it’s common for them to live anywhere from three years to twelve years in captivity.
Then there are people who say that they can live for twenty years or longer as pets. The truth is that it depends on the quality of care that they receive.
Hermit crabs have the potential to live for many years as pets. There are even instances of hermit crabs living for thirty years as pets.
However, you should note that situations like this aren’t typical. It isn’t common for hermit crabs to live this long in captivity.
Sadly, many hermit crabs wind up dying within one year when taken as pets. This is because people don’t do what they need to do to keep their pets safe.
A hermit crab tank should have some type of heating solution. It’s also best for the habitat to have a humidifier of some sort.
The humidity level needs to stay between 70 and 80% to keep the hermit crab safe. This is because hermit crabs have modified gills that need to stay moist so they can breathe oxygen.
If the hermit crab doesn’t have a situation like this, it isn’t going to survive for very long. There are so many things that can cause hermit crabs to die young when they’re being kept as pets.
For this reason, you should only buy pet hermit crabs if you’re ready to care for them properly. It’s best to learn about their needs so that they can thrive in your home.
There Are Different Types of Hermit Crabs
Earlier, you learned that there are different types of hermit crabs out there. There are so many different types of crabs to consider.
Some hermit crabs live longer than others. So it makes sense that you might want to seek out crabs that have the best chance of living for a long time.
Caribbean hermit crabs can live for up to forty years in the wild. The data suggests that they normally live to be between fifteen and twenty when kept as pets.
Ecuadorian hermit crabs can also live for quite a long time. They live for up to thirty years in the wild, but they can live up to fifteen years in captivity.
Blueberry hermit crabs are rather cute and popular. It’s said that they can live for ten years in the wild, but they usually only survive for four years as pets.
Strawberry hermit crabs live a long time in the wild and are known to live to be thirty years old. Sadly, data suggests that they often die within four years in captivity.
Australian hermit crabs fare better when kept as pets since they can live to be ten years old. In the wild, these crabs can live for twenty years.
Ruggie hermit crabs are common sights at pet stores. They can live up to seven years as pets, but they’ll live for fifteen years in the wild.
Indonesian hermit crabs are very interesting because they can live for up to seventy years in the wild. These are huge crabs that cannot be kept as pets so there isn’t any reliable data about their lifespans in captivity.
This information should show you that hermit crabs do indeed live longer in the wild. Theoretically, they can live just as long as pets, but they usually die much sooner than that.
Keeping Pet Hermit Crabs Alive
Keeping pet hermit crabs alive for as long as possible will take some effort. You need to be sure that you’re ready for the responsibility before starting out.
Hermit crabs aren’t necessarily hard to care for, but they do require your attention. They’re low-maintenance pets when compared to many others, but you can’t ignore them either.
Below, you’ll learn about many things that you need to focus on to keep pet hermit crabs alive. This should help you to decide if hermit crabs are right for you.
Once you know more about hermit crab care, making a decision won’t be hard. You should be able to tell if you have the time and ability to meet the care needs of these neat little pets.
Monitoring the Humidity and Temperature Levels in the Tank
Monitoring the humidity and temperature levels in the tank matters. Failure to do this could endanger your pets.
As mentioned earlier, these creatures live in warm places. They can be found on beaches where everything is very humid and warm.
Hermit crabs aren’t meant to be exposed to cool temperatures. They will burrow into the sand to try to stay warm if things get too cold in the tank.
Keeping hermit crabs in your home without some type of heating solution is a poor choice. Generally, people use either traditional heaters or heat lamps for hermit crab habitats.
You can buy a heater that hooks onto the tank somewhere. Or you can position a heat lamp far enough away that it won’t scorch your poor crabs.
Hermit crabs need the temperature to stay between 72 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit on average. The exact temperature preferences could differ somewhat based on the crab species that you’re caring for, but you want them to stay warm.
When hermit crabs get cold they will become sluggish. Cool temperatures stress the crabs and it will cause them to get sick if you’re not careful.
It’s also important not to put the hermit crab tank close to drafty windows, vents, and air conditioning units. You don’t want to accidentally expose your hermit crabs to cooler temperatures even when you’re using a heater since it can throw things off somewhat.
The humidity levels should stay in the right range if you’re using a humidifier or a fogger. You must install a hygrometer in the tank to monitor the humidity levels.
Never let the humidity level get too low. You can easily buy a hygrometer that also functions as a thermometer.
Keep the Hermit Crab Tank Clean
Keeping the hermit crab tank clean is another thing that you must focus on. You should do some spot cleaning of the tank each day.
Hermit crab tanks can get really dirty if you don’t pay attention. These tanks are very humid and leftover food will rot in the tank fast.
Rotting food and excessive amounts of fecal matter will attract bugs. Mites are very problematic for hermit crabs.
Hermit crab mites can stress hermit crabs so bad that they will start losing their legs. They might even die if you don’t fix things.
So keeping the tank clean is a good way to keep your crabs safe from pests. It also helps to prevent issues with bacteria and mold.
You should clean up a bit each day to remove hermit crab poop and leftover food. You can also clean the sand a little bit daily by looking for wet clumps and scooping them out.
Putting in the effort matters. You should be cleaning the tank a bit more thoroughly each week.
Wipe down the walls with dechlorinated water. You can put the crabs in a temporary habitat when you need to clean things deeply.
The sand in the tank must be replaced three times per year. So you need to throw away the old sand and put new sand in the tank every four months.
Boil and clean the extra shells once every three months. Keeping up with the cleaning like this should help your hermit crabs to stay healthy.
Keep Hermit Crabs in Pairs or Small Groups
Hermit crabs are social creatures. They aren’t meant to live in solitude.
When you find hermit crabs in the wild you’ll see that they live in large groups. Keeping a hermit crab by itself in a tank will make it rather lonely.
A hermit crab might become so stressed due to loneliness that it will perish. It’s recommended to keep hermit crabs in pairs or small groups.
So you should buy at least two hermit crabs when you’re purchasing them from the pet store. Ensure that you give them a large enough habitat so they can be happy together.
It’s imperative to keep more than enough extra shells in the tank, too. You don’t want the hermit crabs to fight each other over shells.
Have multiple shells of the same size. This eliminates the need for the hermit crabs to tussle over who gets to use a particular shell.
Feed the Hermit Crabs Properly
Since hermit crabs are omnivorous scavengers, it isn’t that hard to feed them overall. They will eat many different things, but you’re still supposed to feed them a balanced diet.
Hermit crabs need protein, veggies, and fruits to thrive. You can feed them mealworms as a protein source, but they can eat many other things as well.
When feeding hermit crabs veggies and fruits it’s important to wash them using dechlorinated water. Otherwise, the hermit crabs might be exposed to chemicals.
Hermit crabs are very sensitive to chemicals. They can die if they get exposed to chemicals too much.
For example, chlorine is toxic to hermit crabs and it’ll cause them to suffocate. This is why you can’t use standard tap water.
Fruits and veggies are sometimes exposed to chemicals when they’re being grown. So washing them thoroughly is important.
Some go so far as to buy fruits and veggies from organic food stores. If you have one near your home, this isn’t a bad idea at all.
You should feed hermit crabs different things to mix up the diet. They get bored when you try to give them the same food more than twice in a row.
Hermit crabs love carrots, apples, bananas, spinach, and so many other types of food. It won’t be hard to find foods that the hermit crabs will enjoy.
Don’t Disturb Molting Hermit Crabs
A hermit crab can die if it’s disturbed while it’s molting. Molting is something that you must prepare for as a hermit crab owner.
Every twelve to eighteen months, the hermit crab is going to molt. These creatures molt because they grow larger and need to grow bigger exoskeletons to compensate.
They shed their old exoskeletons and grow new ones during the molting process. Hermit crabs are very vulnerable during this time.
It can take weeks or even months for a hermit crab to finish molting. So you need to be patient and leave it alone.
To protect the crab, it’s a good idea to put it in an isolation tank when it’s getting ready to molt. This can keep the crab from being bothered by its tank mates.
You can recognize that a crab is about to molt by looking for common signs. Molting hermit crabs start to eat more food and they will also drink more water than usual.
When a hermit crab is about to molt, its eyes will develop a glazed-over look. Also, its exoskeleton will have a gray appearance.
New hermit crab owners sometimes kill hermit crabs accidentally. They worry that the crab has died while molting, so they attempt to check on it.
Bothering the hermit crab during this time can kill it. Even if the crab doesn’t die from the shock, it’ll wind up being extremely stressed.
Knowing this ahead of time can help you to avoid making mistakes. Be very careful when your hermit crab is molting.
Give the Hermit Crab Stimulation
Hermit crabs that are too bored will become stressed. It’s wise to make their tanks fun for them.
Ensure that the hermit crabs have plenty of little caves and hiding spots that they can use. They like being able to hide when necessary.
It’s also good to put various climbing spots in the tank. These pets love climbing little logs and rocks.
You can angle the logs so that the hermit crabs can climb them and get an enjoyable view. There are also climbing toys that you can purchase at pet stores.
Hermit crabs that are happy in the tank will be more likely to live longer. If you’re meeting the basic care needs of the hermit crabs as well as keeping them stimulated, it’ll bode well for their survival.
Now you know how long hermit crabs live on average. Hermit crabs in the wild generally live longer than those that are kept as pets.
Even so, pet hermit crabs can live for a long time if you care for them properly. You just need to give them the right environment and look out for them.
The advice above should make it much simpler to get things right. Don’t buy hermit crabs if you don’t think you can meet their needs.
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.