Do Hermit Crabs Make Good Pets? (Honest Answer)

Hermit crabs are one of the easiest pets to own. They are unusual and fun to watch, which makes them attractive pets that are fairly low maintenance. Hermit crabs are also curious, interested in exploring larger spaces and leading active lives.

Their name is a bit disingenuous because hermit crabs are not true crabs. They have smaller bellies which are quite tender. That’s why they need to live in an empty shell. As they grow, they grow into ever larger shells.

There are two main species of hermit crabs found as pets in the United States. These include Coenobita clypeatus and Coenobita compressus. Around the world, several other species are also sold as pets.

Hermit crabs rarely breed in the wild. Nearly all of these pets are caught from the wild before being taken to pet stores. Before you adopt, you want to make sure they have a shell covering their head, that they have no obvious parasites, and that all three pairs of legs are present.

Larger crabs are older and often tougher than younger crabs. Look for crabs with natural shells and not those with paint on them. Paint is often toxic to their shells and can slowly poison them.

Before you adopt a hermit crab, make sure you have everything ready so that they have an easy transition and a happy life.

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How to Prepare a Hermit Crab House

Prepare your hermit crab’s home before you adopt it. They need a lot of area to explore in their cage. While many places say you can put them in a small plastic cage, it’s better to put them in a larger glass terrarium filled with lots of substrate. To molt, they must be able to dig sand in the cage. Otherwise, they will basically be stuck.

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Hermit crabs also rely on lighting to dictate some of their behavior. Experts recommend using LED or fluorescent lights above their tanks to mimic the 8 to 12 hour day and its natural light cycle.

In addition to light and substrate, you will also need to treat the enclosure with high humidity. Hermit crabs may be terrestrial (living on land), but their gills need high humidity to continue breathing. Many hermit crabs die prematurely if they live in too dry areas by suffocating slowly.

You can fill their house with lots of accessories, like driftwood and live moss. There are many sites online that will provide you with grooming tips to ensure that you can give your hermit crab the best life possible.

hermit crab in the sand

What Do Hermit Crab Eat?

Wild hermit crabs are omnivores and eat at night. If you can maintain a schedule that works for them, try to imitate this pattern of behavior.

Hermit crabs eat a lot of fruits and leafy vegetables. You can ensure that their diet is balanced by feeding them crushed pellets that are explicitly meant for hermit crabs. These little crabs often eat slowly. If any are left in the morning, remove them from their cage.

Lastly, hermit crabs need fresh, chlorine-free water, and not tap water. It is best to try and fit these into their larger cages rather than just a small water bowl.

the person holding the hermit crab

Socializing Hermit Crab

An important aspect of owning hermit crabs is their socialization. Hermit crabs are mostly social animals. In the wild, they live in large groups. When they sleep, they usually do it together, stacking up for protection.

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Crabs can die of loneliness if left too long without other hermit crabs. The best thing you can do is buy more than one hermit crab. It is best to adopt hermit crabs that are roughly the same size so they are less likely to fight.

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Reasons to Consider Adopting a Different Animal

While hermit crabs can make attractive and low-maintenance pets, they are not the most humane animals to adopt. Most hermit crabs are picked from their lives in the wild for captivity. In the wild, they can live up to 30 years. However, in captivity, they often won’t live much longer than a few months.

These animals are not made to be kept in captivity. They have special environmental needs that are almost impossible to meet in a terrarium. There are many other low-maintenance pet options to consider than supporting a challenging industry.


Featured Image Credit: Pixabay