Learning About Hermit Crabs
Hermit crabs are popular pets for ocean lovers and families with other pet allergies. But before you commit to a tank full of these little critters, you should know a few things about what they are, where they come from, how to take care of them, and what kind of hermit crab food they need.
What Are Hermit Crabs?
The little decapod crustaceans we know as hermit crabs are not true crabs. Even though they have ten legs like other crabs, they do not grow the typically hard shell on their back to protect them from predators. Instead, hermit crabs rely on the shells of other animals to keep them safe.
Hermit crabs are called such because they move from shell to shell as they grow, never staying in one size for very long. They carry their mobile homes on their backs, allowing them to remain safe wherever they go. The ideal shell is big enough for a hermit crab to pull all of their appendages inside and light enough to carry around without tiring quickly.
Hermit crabs must molt to grow, which means it sheds a layer of skin to make way for a bigger body. Most healthy hermit crabs molt about once every 18 months, though the speed of growth for different sized hermit crabs and the right conditions can cause more or less frequent molting.
They are nocturnal creatures, staying more active at night than during the day. Hermit crabs also love to climb, hide, scuttle, and burrow. You might find a hermit crab doing all of these things in one day.
Where Do They Live?
Hermit crabs are prevalent in tropical areas both in and around the ocean. They can live in salt water or fresh water, particularly enjoying brackish water where there are abundant food sources, plenty of abandoned shells, and many places to hide.
They also prefer to live in groups rather than alone, despite the moniker “hermit.” When kept in captivity, most hermit crabs are happier when there are more than one in a cage. In fact, many hermit crab experts suggest having at least three in a group for proper social interaction; otherwise the health of the crab deteriorates. They can live happily in a tank with the right care, though you will probably never see them breed outside of their natural habitat because they usually return to the ocean to deposit their eggs.
What Do Hermit Crabs Eat?
Hermit crab foods range widely. They are omnivores and scavengers, so food for hermit crabs can be plant or animal-based. In the wild, a hermit crab food list might include seaweed, driftwood, snails, or dead fish and other animals.
Pet hermit crab food usually comes in a type of hermit crab bites like HBH hermit crab bites, which is a great marine hermit crab food also known as salt water hermit crab food. Though they aren’t usually picky in their natural environment, they can get picky in captivity. The best hermit crab food is the one that your hermit crabs will eat.
Hermit Crab Fun Facts
Now that you know the basics of how hermit crabs live, here are a few fun facts about them.
- Did you know there are 1170 varieties of hermit crab? And each hermit crab is slightly different with the opportunity to be left or right claw dominant just like humans are right or left handed. They also have a wide range of eye colors.
- Some hermit crabs have been known to live as long as 32 years in captivity, though most only live between 5 and 15 years. Older hermit crabs can get to the size of a softball.
- Hermit crabs can regenerate limbs and claws during a molting phase.
- They can take up to 30 minutes to switch shells and make sure the new one fits right.
How to Care for Hermit Crabs at Home
If you think you are ready to own a hermit crab, here are 6 steps for taking care of it at home.
1. Set up a “Crabitat”
A habitat for hermit crabs is called a crabitat. A 10-gallon tank is big enough for 3 hermit crabs. Try to provide 10 gallons of space for every 3 crabs. However, bigger is always better in terms of cleaning and health of the crab. You must also have substrate, in this case coconut fiber or sand. A burrowing substrate is the most important feature of the tank. Make sure it is clean and that it is deep enough (at least 6 inches) for them to burrow. If the crabs cannot burrow, chance of survival is low. Research substrate for more information.
2. Include a Salt Bath, a Fresh Water Bath, and Toys
Hermit crabs have to stay moist to be healthy. A salt bath and a fresh water bath will provide good options for healthy crabs. Things to climb on will keep them happy and prevent them from getting stressed.
3. Provide Humidity and Temperature Control
Hermit crabs like to be warm, between 75 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit, so you should provide a heat lamp and possibly a humidifier in the tank. They are very sensitive—to cold or to hot and they will die. The tank also needs to be at 80 to 90 percent relative humidity; a hydrometer can gauge how humid the tank is. The tank will also require a lid of some sort to lock in the humidity.
4. Get Hermit Crabs
Don’t get your crabs until you have set up your tank and had time to trouble-shoot any issues. This will provide an easier transition for them. Find extra shells in various sizes for growth: Shells can be bought at pet stores, or you might be able to find shells outside. If you do, boil them in salt water to sterilize them before adding them to the cage.
5. Feed Your Crabs
You can buy hermit crab food wholesale or hermit crab food in bulk from Pisces Pros .
6. Play with Them
Hermit crabs like to run around, which means you can let them run on your arms or on the floor outside of their cages. Just be sure you don’t drop them or step on them.
Get the Best for Your Hermit Crabs
Are you wondering where to buy hermit crab food? HBH hermit crab food and other HBH products are now being sold by Pisces Pros. Because foods for hermit crabs vary, Crab and Hermit Crab Variety Bites are made from coconut, grains, and specialty flakes for an all-encompassing diet.
Get your hermit crab food from Pisces Pros for the best deals on healthy food for your hermit crabs. You may also be interested in turtle food, frog food, or other aquatic animal foods we carry. Order at piscespros.com or contact us for more information.