Hermit Crabs Care Guide
684 botany rd. Alexandria 2015
Hermit crabs are a very popular pet, and we almost always have them available. Kept in the correct conditions that are very active. We have outlined everything you need in the Sydney climate to keep them happy and healthy.
As Ectothermic creatures, meaning cold blooded they need to be provided with a heat source, mentioned below if you do not live in the tropics. Heating one side of the tank is ideal so the Crab can regulate their temperature so they can move to a cooler or warmer area.
Hermit crabs require high humidity to keep their gills moist and allow them to breathe properly. Humidity must be maintained at 75-90% by using an automatic mister, or frequently spraying the enclosure with water.
Hermit Crabs live in other creatures discarded shells. As they grow, they will leave their old shell and find another larger one to move into. A few spare shells, which should be only slightly larger than their current one, should be kept in the enclosure for such occasions. Like other crabs, as they grow hermit crabs need to cast off their outer skeleton, this usually occurs about twice a year. After the crab has moulted it needs to be left alone for several weeks until its new skeleton hardens. After moulting, the skin is usually left on the floor. Crabs will eat this skin as it is rich in calcium. They may eat this discarded old skin before you know they have actually moulted. Crabs will usually bury in the substrate for a week or so while their skin hardens up. Make sure there is plenty of food and water in their enclosure even if they are inactive.
Hermit crabs are nocturnal and will only come out to feed at night.
What do you need to keep Hermit crabs
Tanks: Hermit crabs tank or terrariums should be at least 30cm x 30 x 30 or 20 liters of space. We have a large range of options available; you could use an aquarium, or one of our purpose-built hermit crab enclosure and kit. Make sure the enclosure has a secure lid as hermit crabs are very good climbers and of there is a way out, they will find it. Ideally your tank or terrarium will have a removable glass or acrylic lid.
Humidity Guage: Hermit crabs are native to tropical Asia and therefore are adapted to a warm tropical environment. The temperature should be about 30 deg C Prolonged cold exposure will kill hermit crabs, Petsville have a variety of heating options for hermit crabs, never let the temperature fall below 21 deg C. Humidity is very important; they will actually suffocate without it. In most tanks and hermit crab enclosures simply creating the correct heating and adding the water bowls with a daily spray will be sufficient to have enough humidity.
Heating: This can be done with heat globes, heat matts or heat coils, all available at petsville.
Food: always have 1 food bowl on offer at all times. Many aquarium foods have copper added which is toxic to hermit crabs, Petsville have a selection of hermit crab foods always available. Omniverous creatures, Hermit crabs in the wild feed on any scraps they can find so their diet consists of vegies, fruits, nuts and small insects. Our petsville team has a nutritious hermit crab diet or nutritious pellets available at all times. We recommend adding to your pet hermit crabs diet with fresh vegetables and fruits such as kale, broccoli, apples and bananas to be left overnight and cleaned up in the morning so you don’t attract fruit flies. Always remove any uneaten scraps as rotten food can cause disease and sickness in Hermit crabs.
2 bowls: Hermit Crabs require saltwater for bathing. This should be provided in a separate bowl to their fresh drinking water. One fresh for drinking and one salt for bathing and minerals. The water bowls should have enough depth for the crabs to fully submerge them self, but they also need to be shallow enough that they can get out of the bowl, or they will drown. Water bowls should be changed daily.
Water conditioner or crab water safe spray: This is for both fresh and salt bowls mentioned above.
Salt or salt water conditioner: This is to be placed into one of the bowls mentioned above.
Hermit Clean: Hermit crab safe cage cleaner cleanse the hermit crabs environment without the use of harsh chemicals by using odour fighting bacteria and enzymes that facilitate the breakdown of biological waste.
Substrate: Hermit crab friendly substrate at Petsville we have many options available including coco peat, sand, marine aquarium rock sand/gravel, Pepples or gravel sand mix are all suitable for lining the base of their environment.
Shells – A selection of shells should be aways available, minimum of 2 spare shells to every crab. This will stop Hermit crabs fighting over shells and they need to change shells as they moult and grow larger.
Decorations: Not just to make the tank look good but are important for making hermit crabs happy and feeling secure. Petsville have a large selection in our reptile area and aquarium area including driftwood, decorations, coral, rocks, mangrove root and more to make an awesome environment for your hermit crabs.
Sea Sponges: These are a means of humidity control as they help disperse moisture into the environment, they also help the hermit crabs exit their food and water bowls as they use them for a leg up.
What you can consider with caring for Hermit crabs
Hermit crab enclosure next to a window: so they can receive some sunlight through the window, and this will keep your hermit crabs’ circadian rhythm in check.
Lifespan – Long lived Hermit crabs live for up to 15 year.
Breeding: Hermit crabs are unable to be bred in captivity and require the ocean as part of their breeding cycle.
Moulting: Hermit crabs are a crustacean and as such wear their skeleton on the outside of their body. In order to grow they shed their outer exo skeleton and then grow a new one. Do not remove the old exo skeleton, as it contains lots of nutrients and is important for the hermit crab to eat. Crabs should not be handled for around 25 days after moulting, This will give them time to build up their tissues and harden their new shell. With every moult they grow larger, and will likely require a bigger shell.
Handling: All Hermit crabs have different personalities, some are more friendly and others are shy. Even the shy crabs will get used to you if they are handled.
Lost Limbs: Like all crustaceans Hermit crab limbs will start to grow back every time they moult. Harmit crabs may occasionally lose a limb if they get there leg caught or another hermit crab is trying to pull them out of their shell.
Do not. Do not place hermit crabs on carpet and copper is toxic to hermit crabs, most fish food contains copper so do not feed your crabs fish food.
Setting up a Hermit crab tank or terrarium
- When you have all your essentials mentioned above, start by filling your tank with the substrate, Petsville have many great options mentioned above.
- Then place in Rocks, driftwood, coral, Barnacles and any other safe climbing toys that enrich their habitat and keep them entertained as they investigate their environment.
- Leave an area clear of obstructions for them to move around and exercise and also have an area clear of obstructions for them to exercise and also create space for them to hide as well.
- To breath properly, hermit crabs require a humidity of 70-80%. To keep the humidity you will need an under the tank heater, heat coils or light globes with a terracotta light fitting. If you use a heat matt underneath the tank the substrate needs to be at least 4cm thick. Placing the heat Matt to one side of the tank or terrarium will allow the Hermit crabs to move closer or further away from the heat source, thus regulating their perfect temperature.
- Place 2 water bowls and 1 food bowl in an easily accessible area, Add water conditioner and salt to water bowls, having one with fresh water and one with salt.
- Add sponges to water bowls, to help them get in and out of bowls and helps disperse humidity.
Maintaining your Hermit crab Enclosure
Every 24 hours: Check and offer food, give the tank a non-chlorinated spray and make sure the salt and fresh water bowls have water.
Every week: A hermit crab enclosure should be spot cleaned weekly, with all bowls cleaned and the water changed daily. The substrate should be changed monthly, or more frequently if required.
Once a month If the tank or terrarium starts to have an odor use Hermit clean and change or clean out the substrate, make sure you add water conditioner to the water on the last rinse as chlorine from tap water will damage the hermit crabs gills.
The same as any animal, make sure the container used for transport has holes in it, with some moist paper if the journey is a long one.