Do Hermit crabs Make Good Pets?
Hermit crabs as pets are extremely easy to care for. Find out what you need to know to care for your pet hermit crab.
If you’re looking for a first pet for a child or just an easy pet to care for, the hermit crab is it. Now given the hermit crab is not the cutest or the furriest, they are extremely low maintenance in the pet world. However, they are the Rodney Dangerfield of the pet world, they simply get no respect.
There is not much information on them, in fact, there are virtually no books written about them. On a web search, there are few websites that even mention them. You may be surprised by the hermit crab. It may not be as simple as everyone thinks it is.
Hermit Crab Shells
Some people just see a crab moving about a place to place in search of a new shell to call its home. The hermit crab is much more, it lives by social instincts and communicates in its own language. The hermit crab is odorless and clean and requires little attention. This is the perfect pet for someone that has little time to spend on an animal and they are easy to hide from your landlord!
There are no two hermit crabs alike. Each shell is different and distinctive in appearance. They wiggle into a new shell when they find it is time to find a new home. The hermit crabs factor in the size and fit of their new home. The hermit crab has reddish legs under the shell. They do have a large dark pincer claw that is fully operational and ready to strike if the crab is stressed or is in danger.
How long can hermit crabs live?
No one knows for sure how long hermit crabs can survive on their own in the wild. However, they can live for a decade or even longer in a home that takes good care of them, though it is impossible to tell the age of the hermit crab when you obtain one so they might not live as long as ten years. You need to keep in mind when choosing this animal as a pet because they can have a longevity that you might not be prepared for.
Hermit crabs do not have the ability to grow its own shell, so most of its time must be spent in looking for a new shell.
If a crab does not find a larger shell it will do the crab in. As a pet owner, you should provide a number of different shells of all shapes and sizes. It is best to purchase the shells that you find in a pet store because they are commercial, sanitized, shells specifically designed for hermit crabs.
The shell for the crab is a home within the shell. The shell must be hygienically maintained and large enough for it to live long and prosper. The most suitable environment can be a traditional glass aquarium or a large plastic box. The enclosure must have a vented top for security and ventilation.
The walls should be at least six inches higher than the largest crab housed. The ideal flooring is sand. This is what the crab would crawl around in its native region. You can purchase commercial sand that is designed specifically for hermit crabs. Two or three inches of sand is best. You can also use aquarium gravel as a flooring, but hermit crabs like to burrow in the sand so sand is recommended. Hermit crabs will prefer to live in colonies so you should buy more than one. However, when the hermit crab is in the molting stage the crabs should be separated.
Hermit crabs should be kept well hydrated both internally and externally. They need to drink water in order to retain their body’s moisture. If a hermit crab becomes dehydrated it will die.
Do Hermit Crabs Like To Swim?
Hermit crabs do not like to swim so the water dish should be extremely shallow. A lid from a jar works well and it should be embedded into the sand so that it does not tip easily. Another popular method is to purchase a sponge that you can saturate with water. There are specific hermit crab sponges that pet stores sell for this purpose.
From the sponge, the crab will drink water from actually squeezing the sponge. You should refresh this sponge or drinking lid every day if not more. It is also important for the crab to have a humid environment and you can add to this by misting the sand or gravel two or three times a week.
A hermit crab should be kept in a terrarium that falls in the temperature range of seventy to eighty-five degrees. This is why they are popular pets because many people keep their houses within these temperature guidelines.
The terrarium should be kept away from drafts and if your house is cold at night you may consider putting a heating pad on low under one half of the terrarium. This is the last resort and should be used only if your house is extremely cold. Hermit crabs can get too hot and if you leave them in direct sunlight or in a car, they will get overheated and die. Hermit crabs can tolerate temperatures as low as fifty degrees but they must have an adequate amount of sand to burrow in.
Hermit Crab Feeding
Hermit crabs are slow eaters. They don’t eat much but what you feed them should be high in quality. Many pet stores sell a commercial brand hermit crab diet.
This is good but like other small animals, you should give your hermit crab a little variety. If they don’t eat the hermit crab diet and you provide no other sources of nutrition, they will die. A basic vegetarian diet should please and nourish the colony.
It should be a mixture of cornmeal, oats and chopped fruits, all held together by peanut butter.
Peanut butter is a favorite among hermit crabs.
Hermit crabs prefer fruit such as apples.
You want to avoid feeding them bread because it can clog their gills and suffocate them.
Also, avoid feeding meat products because they can spoil and cause bacteria to occur within the terrarium You should feed the crabs out of a dish very shallow much like the water dish. Some pet stores provide feeder shells to feed the crabs out of and when a crab eats out of them they will ingest calcium from the shells. You should remove any uneaten food each day so that it doesn’t spoil.
A hermit crab’s molting period, the time in which it looks for a new shell, is important. A hermit crab during this period should not be housed with other hermit crabs. The shell is its protection, without the other crabs could pick on it and injure it very badly. Molting occurs about once a year but could happen more often depending on the crab. To protect itself during this period, the crab will burrow itself into the sand.
During this time you want to make sure that you keep the enclosure moist. When molting a crab may try on different shells until it finds one it likes. When it is less vulnerable and seems to have taken on a permanent shell, you can return it to the colony.
Hermit crabs can be amusing to watch and take care of. They are very easy to take care of and require a little time each day. However, they can have quite a longevity and as with any pet, you should take note of your commitment before purchasing one.