Hermit Crabs As Pets


Coenobita Clypeatus


The land or tree hermit crab is a substantially terrestrial [land dwelling] crustacean (crab) which carries a shell on it's back to protect it from predators. The soft abdomen of the Hermit Crab is equipped with numerous tiny "legs" which it uses to scoot into and out of the shell as needed to explore its world. The Hermit Crab must return to the sea to reproduce.


The species of hermit crab most often kept as a pet is red to orange in the legs and red to maroon in color throughout the body. As the time for moulting approaches, the hermit crab becomes mottled red, orange and yellow. The body has eight legs, plus two claws. Interestingly, the left claw is always larger than the right claw by a three-fold margin. This giant claw forms the "door" which secures the shell when the crab is withdrawn tightly inside. To pull a hermit crab from its shel is a terminal event for the crab which will be torn to pieces in the process.


They tend to be nocturnal [night active] and they feed by half light or in complete darkness. However, they can be active by day, and may even feed by daylight in captivity. They may pinch your hand as you hold them if they feel as though they may fall. To get them to release you, lay your hand in the bottom of the sink so the crab is not hanging, then run the whole crab under cool, running water.


Coenobita Clypeatus requires a minimum ambient temperature of at least 72 degrees Fahrenheit to do well. The warmer you keep them, the better. They require a modicum of humidity. They do not require salt, even though they live by the sea in their natural environment, however, if you give them a bottle cap of non iodized sea salt, they throng to it. The best arrangement is the ten gallon aquarium with a hardwood or driftwood branch for the crabs to climb on. Ask for a piece of "WelbyWood" from your local pet shop. Lay this in the tank. Happy crabs ready to forage will climb n the wood. Crabs which need to isolate themselves in order to moult will crawl under the wood and be protected. If disturbed during the moult they will be killed during this vulnerable time.

Let sleeping crabs lie.


The best food for crabs is live food. They relish small cockroaches, superworms, meal worms, earthworm bits, etc. They will eagerly accept freeze dried krill and other freeze dried delicacies. A good staple food with a 24-36 hour lifespan in the cage is dry dog or cat food crushed fine and stirred into an equal amount of peanut butter.


* Do not disturb a buried or hidden crab or it will likely fall apart and die. They must isolate themselves to moult, during which time their body softens in order for them to extract themselves from their old exoskeletons. After they moult, they drink heavily for twenty four hours, enlarge themselves and then "set" or harden.

* If they pinch you, do not let them hang from your finger, or they will not let go. They will let go as soon as they feel they are resting on theground, safe and sound.

* They need to be kept warm.

* They are voracious foragers and large specimens of Hermit Crab can kill and eat small frogs, and other things you might keep in their amphibarium.

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