Hermit Crabs

hermit crabs

Sebastian from The Little Mermaid was Ariel’s courageous and loyal guy-nanny. Although rather strict and conservative, he was always there for the mermaid protagonist. This may not be of common knowledge, but Sebastian was a hermit crab. And in reality, hermit crabs are just as interesting as they are portrayed in the hit animated movie.

Hermit crabs as pets are an excellent choice for those who want good pets that are less costly. First of all, they are not known carriers of any form of disease. Unlike other crabs, hermits are not at all aggressive. It does pinch sometimes, but in those rare events the crab will immediately release under proper conditions.

Buying hermit crabs
When you decide that you want hermit crabs as pets, remember that they are sociable creatures. Because of this characteristic it is recommended that you purchase them in groups. Be careful when getting a lot of crabs because chances are the bigger crabs will bully the smaller ones, stressing them out. Hermit crabs easily get stressed so when buying one from a store choose one that is the least stressed so that it can survive the travel back to your place. But how do you know which one is least stressed? Stress in hermit crabs is manifested by the loss of several body parts such as the limb. Next thing to examine is its shell. If the hermit crab is sitting so far from the insides of the shell it means he needs an immediate shell replacement. Some pet stores sell hermit crabs with hand-painted shells. Even though the painting seems attractive and pretty it is not advisable to buy one because the paint will eventually wear off and the flakes can irritate the crab’s skin. To see if the crab has other defects, take the crab out of the water. The way it hides it head and sticks it out again shows its healthiness. The hermit crab may have injuries if he does not stick out its head even after a few minutes of handling. Also check its body for any fungal infection. If one crab possesses symptoms of infection, do not buy any of the crabs inside that same tank. There is a huge possibility that the rest of the crabs have been infected as well.

Hermit crabs’ diet
If you have hermit crabs as pets there’s not so much a need to worry when it comes to meals. Hermit crabs can eat different fruits and vegetables, but they should be immediately taken out of the tank if unconsumed. They also enjoy a pinch of cereal and crackers. In the wild, hermit crabs usually hide stocks of food in corners. This characteristic can be seen when an owner stops dropping food on its tank for a few days and it digs out piles of reserved food found on corners of the tank. Do not feed them with spicy food or anything that has preservatives in it. Also, try to vary what you feed them. As much as possible do not feed them the same thing twice in a row.

Setting up the tank

The tank should be tall enough so as to accommodate layers of sand, for hermit crabs enjoy a lot of burrowing.
When the sand level is enough, place the necessary equipments. Place at least two water dishes (one for freshwater and the other for saltwater) and one food dish. Make sure the water dishes are deep enough so that the crab can dip its shell into the water. Hermit crabs love to climb! Add a small branch for the hermit crab to climb on. Make sure you do not use pine logs as they can irritate the crab’s skin. A piece of furniture or hiding spot is also required for when the crabs wish to rest. Like snakes, hermit crabs are excellent escape artists. Make sure you put a lid on top of the tank. Keep the tank at room temperature. If the temperature goes down there is tendency for the crabs to become less active. Position the tank in a visible area so that you can easily attend to their needs and catch unusual behavior. Although it is true that hermit crabs are low maintenance pets, keeping them alive for more than a year may require some dedicated care. Their tanks must be cleaned and kept free of contamination to avoid any infection or disease.

Why hermit crabs might not be the best idea for little kids

Hermit crabs are nocturnal creatures. During daytime, they like to bury themselves under the sand. They need to stay in this rested state to develop their growth. Molting, a stage wherein the hermit crab sheds of its shell, is part of the growing process and during this time the hermit crab will be immobile for days on. Little kids will want to play with their pets. There’s a good chance that they’ve yet to understand the idea of molting, making them take the hermit crab out of the tank even at this very critical stage. Disturbing the molting process could kill your pet crab. Kids will want to carry their pets around and cuddle it. If not taught properly, kids will just pick a hermit crab and toy with it—shaking it, forcing it out of its shell—which will annoy the hermit crab and possibly pinch the unknowing child.

The advantages of hermit crabs as pets

In general, hermit crabs are ideal pets. They are fascinating aquatic creatures and each of them is unique in their own way. Apart from the different decorative patterns on their shells, they possess different personalities. Raising these crustaceans is easy on the pocket. They don’t eat much, and when they do they do not require expensive commercial food. All you need is a tank and the hermit crabs themselves, and you’re good to go. If you’ve got time to expand your hermit crab collection, you might even try building a whole colony of them. Be creative! This could as fun and as educational as keeping a colony of ants and be able to observe their behaviors. Having hermit crabs as pets can be really rewarding. So go get yourself one!