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What Do Hermit Crabs Need to Survive and Thrive?

What Do Hermit Crabs Need to Survive and Thrive?

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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.

Have you started seriously considering buying hermit crabs as pets? It can be fun to own pet hermit crabs because of how interesting they are.

They don’t take up a lot of space. Also, they’re great pets to just watch.

Hermit crabs may be non-traditional pets, but a lot of people love them. If you want to buy hermit crabs, it’s best to learn about their needs first.

What do you need to keep hermit crabs as pets in your home? Read on to learn about everything hermit crabs require so you can have a simple time setting up a hermit crab habitat.

Why Do Hermit Crabs Need Shells?

Hermit crabs need shells because they are vulnerable without them. You see, hermit crabs have soft bodies that are vulnerable to predator attacks.

They have exoskeletons, but these exoskeletons are not up to the task of protecting themselves from predators. This is why hermit crabs seek out shells that have been left behind by dead mollusks.

It’s common for hermit crabs to use shells left behind by dead sea snails. Hermit crabs have learned how to use shells to make up for inherent weaknesses.

They’re incredibly skilled when it comes to maneuvering inside the shell. Hermit crabs use one set of legs to simply hold onto the shell and manipulate it.

A hermit crab will never leave its shell unless it has to. Hermit crabs typically only leave the shell to find another shell, but they might sometimes abandon a shell for other reasons.

You won’t see a hermit crab outside of its shell often. Shells are important to the survival of hermit crabs.

Do Hermit Crabs Need a Heat Lamp?

Buying a heat lamp can be a good way to keep hermit crabs warm enough. Hermit crabs need to be kept in a tank that’s fairly warm.

These creatures live in tropical environments. They can be found on warm beaches and they never stray far from the shore.

It’d be wise to keep the temperature in the tank between 75 degrees Fahrenheit and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. During the night, temperatures can be lowered a bit.

Nighttime temperatures can be between 65 degrees Fahrenheit and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Not everyone bothers to change the temperature during the night, but it is natural for hermit crabs to deal with slightly cooler temperatures during the night in the wild.

If hermit crabs are exposed to very cool temperatures, it can be bad for them. It has the potential to kill hermit crabs when the temperature is below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Using a heat lamp can work out, but you need to position it right. Putting the lamp too close to the tank will make it too hot and that will be detrimental to the crabs.

Does a Hermit Crab Need a Heat Lamp?

As mentioned above, a hermit crab might need a heat lamp. It just depends on the situation.

Hermit crabs need to be kept warm because they’re cold-blooded creatures. They can’t regulate their own temperatures since they rely on the environment for warmth.

A heat lamp can be a good solution, but it can also be dangerous. If the heat lamp is positioned too close to the crab, it’d be easy to make the crab too hot.

Excessive heat is problematic for hermit crabs. This can be every bit as dangerous as the hermit crabs getting too cold.

So you need to be careful when using heat lamps. They can work out fine, but it might be better to use a traditional heater that attaches to the tank.

Do Hermit Crabs Need Heat?

Yes, it’s a good idea to have some type of heater in the tank for the hermit crabs. This is because you need the temperature to stay in the right range.

Granted, your home is likely going to be temperature-controlled. Even so, you don’t want the temperature to dip too much.

Temperature fluctuations can also bother hermit crabs. So it’s wise to give them a steady temperature when possible.

Using a heater is important when you live in a cool area. It’s smart to use a heater of some sort no matter what.

Buy a heater and attach it to the side of the tank. You should also buy a thermometer so you can keep monitoring the temperature easily.

Do Hermit Crabs Need Humidifiers?

Hermit crabs can’t breathe if the environment isn’t humid enough. You need the tank to have a humidity level between 70% and 80%.

Most people strive to keep the humidity close to 80% in the tank. This humidity percentage is far too high for your home, but it’s what’s necessary for the hermit crab habitat.

Technically, you can achieve this without buying a humidifier. However, it’s going to be much harder to keep the tank humid enough without one.

There are methods that you can try out. You can mist the habitat with water frequently to raise the humidity.

It’s also possible to leave wet natural sponges in the tank to raise the humidity. Truly, it’s best to just buy a humidifier or a fogger.

Doing so allows you to keep the humidity steady so your hermit crabs can thrive. Getting what you need won’t cost too much cash, and you’ll be glad that you got one.

You should also install a hygrometer in the tank. This allows you to monitor the humidity level in the tank.

What Kind of Sand Do Hermit Crabs Need?

Sand is essential when you’re keeping hermit crabs as pets. If you don’t have sand in the tank, hermit crabs won’t be able to do what they need to do.

Hermit crabs are used to living on or near beaches. They use the sand for many different things.

Most importantly, they burrow into the sand so they can molt. Molting is something that hermit crabs do to grow, and they grow entirely new exoskeletons during the process.

Without sand, a hermit crab will become incredibly stressed. You must put enough sand in the tank to ensure that the hermit crab can completely submerge its body.

You want to buy sand that will work fine for hermit crab tanks. Not all sand is going to work for this.

Both playground sand and aquarium sand are known to work fine. However, you should ensure that whatever sand you choose isn’t overly fine.

Do Hermit Crabs Need Water?

Water is certainly something that hermit crabs need. Without water, hermit crabs wouldn’t be able to stay alive for long.

You’re supposed to ensure that your crabs have constant access to water. Keep at least two shallow water dishes in the tank.

One shallow water dish should contain freshwater while the other contains saltwater. Hermit crabs need access to both, and they’ll use each dish frequently.

Hermit crabs will drink the water as you’d expect. They’ll also submerge their bodies in the water regularly.

This is done for many reasons. They submerge themselves in the water to stay clean, and they also do this to store water in the shell.

Hermit crabs store water in their shells so they can keep their gills moist. This is important because they need moist gills to be able to breathe oxygen.

You must use distilled water for hermit crabs. Tap water is unacceptable because it contains traces of chemicals such as fluoride and chlorine.

Chlorine can kill hermit crabs by suffocating them. So be sure to buy distilled water or use a dechlorinator on your tap water.

Do Hermit Crabs Need Saltwater?

Saltwater is essential for hermit crabs. As mentioned above, they need both saltwater and freshwater to survive.

You should always keep one dish of saltwater in the tank and one dish of freshwater. The hermit crabs will decide which they need on their own.

It’s easy to make your own saltwater, but you’re supposed to use aquarium salt. Never try to make saltwater by using table salt.

Iodine is bad for hermit crabs. So long as you do things right, it’ll be easy to protect your crabs.

How Much Water Do Hermit Crabs Need?

Your hermit crabs should always have access to water. So you need to make sure that their shallow water dishes are full.

The water dishes must be shallow to protect the crabs. However, the dishes must be deep enough to allow the crabs to submerge their bodies.

You can buy water dishes that are perfect for hermit crabs at pet stores. They can also be found at online retailers that sell pet supplies.

It’s important to make it easy for the hermit crabs to get in and out of the shallow water dishes. If hermit crabs get stuck in the water they will eventually drown.

Hermit crabs that live on land aren’t capable of breathing underwater. Keep this in mind and get dishes that will keep your crabs safe.

Some people buy dishes that have ramps attached to them. These can work out nicely.

Do Hermit Crabs Need Light?

No, hermit crabs don’t have specific lighting requirements that you need to keep in mind. Hermit crabs are nocturnal creatures that are more active during the night.

During the day, hermit crabs will often sleep and hide in their shells. It’s fine to have natural light in the room during the day so your hermit crabs will have a normal day and night cycle.

Keep in mind that direct sunlight is bad for hermit crabs. It can make things too hot and excessive light will also stress the crabs.

Never put the hermit crab tank in direct sunlight. Find a safe spot for the tank to keep things safe.

Do Hermit Crabs Need Light at Night?

It would be bad to put lights on at night for the hermit crabs. Hermit crabs can see very well in the dark.

You don’t have to worry about them being able to see what they’re doing. So don’t worry about installing special lights in the tank.

What Kind of Light Do Hermit Crabs Need?

If you don’t have enough natural light in your home, you might want to install lights. Hermit crabs benefit from having a simulated day and night cycle.

You want them to experience eight to twelve hours of light per day. Natural light is best, but there are other lights that can work.

Install fluorescent lights or LED bulbs in the terrarium hood. Never use UVB lights since those will be too strong.

Only keep the lights on during the day and be sure to shut them off after eight to twelve hours have passed. You’re just using the lights to simulate day lighting to keep hermit crabs on their natural schedules.

Do Hermit Crabs Need Air?

Land hermit crabs absolutely need air. There are land hermit crabs and marine hermit crabs.

Marine hermit crabs spend their lives in the water. They can breathe underwater because they have gills.

Land hermit crabs also have gills, but they’re modified. These modified gills are capable of breathing oxygen so long as they stay moist.

Without air, a land hermit crab would die. If you put a land hermit crab in a fish tank that’s full of water, it’s going to drown.

Air is a requirement for land hermit crabs. Keep this in mind and make sure that you prevent them from drowning by taking the right precautions.

Do Hermit Crabs Need Friends?

Hermit crabs are very social creatures. In the wild, hermit crabs live on or near beaches with hundreds of other hermit crabs.

These creatures are used to interacting with others of their kind. If you want hermit crabs to thrive, it’s best to keep them in pairs or small groups.

Keeping a hermit crab by itself as a pet is not recommended. This situation will cause the hermit crab to feel very stressed and lonely.

Often, lone hermit crabs will wind up dying far faster than they should. It’s said that they can die of loneliness.

When you go to buy hermit crabs from the store, be sure to pick up at least two of them. Always buy hermit crabs that belong to the same species, too.

Do Hermit Crabs Need Plants?

You don’t need to keep plants in the hermit crab’s tank if you don’t want to. Some people find that keeping live plants in a hermit crab habitat is a bit tough.

The hermit crabs will like having live plants in the tank if you want to go to the trouble. It helps the tank to feel more natural and the hermit crabs might even nibble on the plants from time to time.

If you plan to keep plants in the habitat, you should go with hardy plants that are recommended for hermit crabs. There are quite a few options to consider such as spider plants, pothos, air plants, and loose-leaf lettuce.

Of course, you could also choose to put fake plants in the tank. These will work as decorations and you won’t have to worry about keeping them alive.

Do Hermit Crabs Need Hiding Spots?

Your hermit crabs will appreciate having hiding spots in the tank. A hermit crab tank that is nothing but sand and empty space will be a bit boring.

It makes hermit crabs feel better if they have a more natural environment to explore. Being able to enjoy different hiding spots is nice.

You can place little caves and rocks in the tank for the hermit crabs. This will give them areas to explore and they can hide from the other crabs if they want to be alone.

Simply installing hiding spots will keep the crabs much happier. It’s a good way to mitigate stress issues.

Do Hermit Crabs Need to Be Fed Daily?

It’s best to feed your hermit crabs daily. Hermit crabs are omnivores that will scavenge for food on beaches in the wild.

Wild hermit crabs are known to eat many different things. They’ll eat plants, dead fish, and whatever else they can find to survive.

Pet hermit crabs are going to be eating pellet food on a regular basis. These pets get tired of eating the same thing all the time, though.

You need to supplement their diets by giving them fruits and veggies. Washing the fruits and veggies with dechlorinated or distilled water first is important.

These pets don’t eat very fast either. They tend to take small bites and finish their food slowly.

You don’t need to give your hermit crabs huge amounts of food at once either. They’ll eat one teaspoon of commercial hermit crab food, and then you can supplement that with small amounts of cut-up veggies and fruits.

Since hermit crabs are nocturnal, it’s best to feed them at night. Most people choose to feed their hermit crabs in the late evening before bed.

How Long Can Hermit Crabs Go Without Food?

What if you’re away from the house and you’re not there to feed your hermit crabs? Will they survive for a few days if you can’t make it back right away?

It’s not good to make your hermit crabs go without eating for too long. It can cause them a lot of stress and it might even make them sick.

Even so, hermit crabs are supposed to be able to live for several days without food. Some hermit crabs might live for as long as ten days without food, but it depends on the health of the crab and its size.

If you know you’re going to be away from home, it’s better to ask someone to feed your hermit crabs for you. You don’t want to come home and find out that your hermit crab is in poor health or that it passed away.

Do Hermit Crabs Need to Be Handled?

Handling hermit crabs is something that you don’t need to do very often. Many people like handling hermit crabs because it makes them feel more connected to their pets.

However, you need to know that handling is something that’s very stressful for these pets. Hermit crabs generally don’t like being handled.

They can learn to tolerate it, but it’s scary for hermit crabs to be put in these situations. Also, mishandling a hermit crab could easily cause it to get seriously injured.

Hermit crabs are a bit fragile overall. If you drop a hermit crab from a height of more than a few inches off of the ground, there’s a good chance that the hermit crab will get hurt.

You could even accidentally kill a hermit crab by dropping it. This is why it’s crucial to handle hermit crabs with care.

When handling hermit crabs, you want to only hold them a few inches off of the ground. You also want to go slow while allowing the hermit crab’s legs to rest on your hand.

Handling hermit crabs too often will cause them stress even if you do things right. Try to keep handling to a minimum.

You should only need to handle hermit crabs when you need to move them to a temporary habitat. This is something you’ll need to do when you clean the tank.

Do Hermit Crabs Need a Big Tank?

Hermit crabs need to be kept in tanks that aren’t too cramped. You don’t want the tank to be bigger than necessary, though.

For many hermit crabs, a 10-gallon tank will be ideal. You can keep two or three crabs in a 10-gallon tank comfortably so long as they aren’t incredibly big.

Some larger crabs might be better off in a bigger tank. You want hermit crabs to have enough room to spread out so they don’t get on each other’s nerves.

Most people aren’t going to have any problem finding enough room for a hermit crab tank. These are generally small pets that don’t require huge habitats.

Final Thoughts

You should have a pretty good idea of what hermit crabs need now. Setting up a hermit crab tank isn’t too tough, but you will need to do things right.

It’s best to buy a tank that will be comfortable for all of the hermit crabs. You don’t want them to feel cramped.

You should likely buy a humidifier and a heater for the tank. Hermit crabs should be kept in pairs or small groups since they can get lonely.

Now that you know the basics, taking care of hermit crabs as a beginner won’t be intimidating. Move forward with buying hermit crabs if you think you’re ready for the responsibility.

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