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Hermit Crabs

In the next few weeks, we're going to pick up some hermit crabs as a little pet for our house.

Does anyone have any tips, advice, info, or anything else to share? It'll be our first experience, and we've done a lot of research (mostly Carey has), but personal tales always add a little bit of color to the research.

4 Responses to "Hermit Crabs"

  1. We just finished a 1 year stint with 2 hermit crabs we bought for our kids. Some lessons learned:

    1. Buy an extra shell for each in case they want to upsize.

    2. Don't overfeed. They don't need much. We bought 1 packet of food and it lasted for a year, with leftovers.

    3. Tap water is fine. Don't buy into the hype that they need something special.

    4. If you let them crawl around on the floor, watch 'em, they are wicked fast.

    5. Don't let them crawl up your drapes, they are hard to get down without tearing drapes or ripping claws off.

    6. They can survive just fine for a few days outside of the cage until you find them under the couch.

    7. Just because they have never pinched your kids in a year of playing with them doesn't mean they won't pinch them now.

    8. If they pinch one of your kids, even just once, they will lose interest in the crabs forever.

    9. If they start to stink really bad, at least one of them is dead.

  2. John's point number 3 is wrong. You can let tap water sit out overnight in an open container to remove the chlorine and then use it, but fresh tap water isn't good for them. It may not kill them, but it is giving them low amounts of a nasty toxin via their respiratory apparatus. The other potential problem with tap water is in your pipes, if they are copper: copper is quite toxic to invertebrates. In most cases scale inside your pipe protects the water and it's not a big deal, but if you have new pipes, the copper can be toxic to them. So although in most cases your tap water won't kill them, buying distilled water at your local grocery store won't set you back more than about $0.50 a bottle, and a bottle will last you a couple of months.

    On another note, depending on the type you get, some of them require regular access to salt water to really thrive. You can buy a small bag of marine salt and mix it by weight with water in an old milk jug and you'll have enough salt water to last you for a few years.

    Finally, depending on where you live you may want to invest in an under-tank heater and good lid for their home. If you are in Florida, you won't need this, but if you're further north or in an arid region, that heater and lid will help keep an optimal temperature and humidity for them.

    Regarding food, the packaged food is fine, but the crabs lose interest in the same food all the time. Give them fresh vegetables and fruit (mine like apple slices), and other things (e.g., raw shrimp) that provide needed nutrients on occasion. They thrive better on a variety of foods.

  3. Leaving tap water out for 48 hours may let the chlorine dissipate but does nothing for the chloramine and heavy metals within tap water that are harmful and eventually lethal to hermit crabs. For this reason a dechlorinator that removes chlorine, chloramine, and heavy metals is needed. But there is nothing sold on the market to remove the fluoride from tap water. Fluoride is known to cause defects in zoea (baby hermies) so many do use distilled bottle water that WalMart now sells for 84 cents a gallon for the hermies water dishes. But one can use a dechlorinator to boil/sterilize items in tap water.

    Crabbers who live in the southern tip of Florida and those who use air conditioning have found they do need a warming source for their crabitats to keep the warm end substrate at 78-80*F and a cooler side of 71-73*F.

    Majority of Prepared commercial foods contain ethoxyquin and/or copper sulphate (insecticides) Hermit crabs are from the arthropod (insect) phylum. Due to shell diseases, ALL shell fish should be at least steamed prior to offering. (shrimp, oysters, etc) They do need a variety of foods for the vitamins and minerals they contain. Remember though, most chitin sources are a form of protein, but not all protein sources contain chitin.

    All species of hermit crabs need an ocean/sea water source to remain healthy. A gallon I am sorry will not last for a year, and does have a habit of turning/souring if kept too long. The ocean/sea mix must be that which is sold specifically for salt water fish tanks.

    I am sorry, there is quite a bit to keeping hermit crabs alive and healthy while living in captivity so please visit the Crab Street Journals care sheets, articles, and faq's. We also have a thread under the general forum called "Newbies start here" that is full of information for the clicking and can be viewed by the public.

  4. Wow I'd love a hermit crab as a pet! Do you not think that it's a bit cruel keeping them though? I mean - although they aren't the smartest animal in the world it seems a shame to take them out of their natural environment to keep at home.