Shelled Pets: A Comprehensive Guide to Hermit Crab Care


Hermit crabs are unique and fascinating pets that have become increasingly popular over the years. These little crustaceans make great pets for many reasons, including their interesting behaviors and low-maintenance care requirements. However, despite their seemingly simple needs, it’s important to understand that hermit crabs do require proper care in order to thrive.

A Brief Overview of Hermit Crabs as Pets

Hermit crabs are small creatures that belong to the family of decapod crustaceans. Unlike most other crabs, they do not have a hard exoskeleton and instead rely on scavenging shells from other marine animals for protection.

In the wild, they typically live near coastal areas and can often be found scavenging on sandy shores or in tide pools. As pets, hermit crabs can be a great option for those looking for a unique companion.

They come in various sizes and colors, with some even having patterns on their shells. However, it’s important to note that these creatures are social animals and should not be kept alone.

The Importance of Proper Care for Their Health and Well-being

While hermit crabs may seem like low-maintenance pets, they do require specific care in order to stay healthy and happy. Some common issues seen when hermit crab care is neglected include stress, injury from improper handling or tank conditions, illness due to poor water quality, or nutrition deficiencies leading to death. Proper housing is essential for hermit crab health as well as a proper diet that includes both protein sources (crab food) and nutritious vegetables such as carrots or kale leaves.. Additionally providing them with adequate hiding spots will help them feel secure while molting so they don’t get disturbed during this delicate process which occurs every few months.

It’s important to note that hermit crabs also need access to both saltwater and freshwater, as they use both types of water for different purposes. Providing them with appropriate amounts of both types of water is critical for their health and survival.

Hermit crabs are fascinating pets that can provide a unique and rewarding experience to those who care for them properly. By understanding their basic needs, providing the appropriate housing, diet, and access to both saltwater and freshwater; Hermit Crab caretakers can ensure their precious little pets live long healthy lives.

Home Sweet Home: Housing Your Hermit Crab

As you prepare to bring your new hermit crab home, you want to make sure that it has a comfortable living space that meets its needs. Here are some things to consider when setting up your crab’s new home.

Choosing the right type of tank and substrate

Hermit crabs need a tank that is large enough for them to move around in and have adequate hiding spots. A 10-gallon tank is the minimum size recommended for one or two small hermit crabs, but if you plan on having multiple crabs or larger ones, then a larger tank is necessary.

The tank should also have a secure lid to keep the crab inside and prevent any predators from getting in. When it comes to the substrate, hermit crabs love sand and coconut fiber mixture.

Avoid using anything with chemicals or dyes as this can be harmful to your pet crab. A depth of at least 6 inches of the substrate allows the crab to dig tunnels and bury themselves.

Providing adequate space and hiding spots

Hermit crabs like having plenty of space where they can hide when they feel threatened or need some alone time; give them lots of hiding spots throughout their enclosure by providing various sizes of shells or unusual objects like driftwood hollowed-out rocks etc. Make sure any rocks or decorations are securely placed so they don’t fall on your pet crab causing injury. You can also create areas with different humidity levels by adding moss or wet sponges in different areas.

Temperature and humidity requirements

Hermit crabs need a warm, humid environment similar to their natural habitat. The ideal temperature range is between 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit with humidity levels around 70-80%.

You can monitor these levels with a thermometer/hygrometer placed inside the enclosure. To increase humidity levels, spray the tank with water frequently or use a misting system.

You can also add a shallow dish of water to the tank for additional moisture. By providing the appropriate housing conditions, your hermit crab will thrive and live a happy life in its new home.

Diet: What Do Hermit Crabs Eat?

If you’re considering a hermit crab as a pet, it’s important to know what they eat. Hermit crabs are omnivores, meaning they eat both plant and animal matter.

In the wild, they will scavenge for food along the beach or in the crevices of rocks. As pets, it’s important to provide them with a balanced diet to ensure their health and longevity.

Variety of Foods They Can Eat

Hermit crabs can be fed a variety of foods, including fruits and vegetables, meat and seafood, grains, and nuts. Some good options for fruits and vegetables include apples, bananas, carrots, spinach, and kale. For meat and seafood options consider boiled chicken or shrimp without any seasoning or added preservatives.

In addition to these basic food groups, it is important that you give your hermit crab some calcium supplements as well as some vitamin supplements. This is because hermit crabs are prone to shell rot if they don’t get enough calcium in their diet.

Frequency And Amount Of Feeding

Hermit crabs should be fed every day with small amounts of food that are appropriate for their size. It’s important not to overfeed them as this can lead to obesity which can lead to so many other health issues.

To determine how much food your hermit crab needs per day you should watch its eating habits closely over the course of a few weeks. You should also make sure that there is always fresh water available in the tank.

Importance Of Calcium Supplements

Calcium supplements are crucial for hermit crabs because their exoskeletons require calcium carbonate which provides strength during molting periods when they shed their exoskeletons (or shells) in order to grow larger shells. If a hermit crab is not getting enough calcium in its diet it may develop shell rot which is a dangerous condition for any crustacean. It’s important to provide calcium supplements in the form of crushed-up eggshells or cuttlebone, and always make sure that the water in their tank is rich in calcium as well.

Now that you know what to feed your hermit crab and how often, you can help ensure its health and longevity with a proper diet. Remember to always offer variety and focus on providing fresh, nutritious food that will help keep your pet happy and healthy!


Hermit crabs are aquatic creatures, which means they need access to both fresh and saltwater to survive. It’s essential to provide clean water that’s free from any harmful chemicals or contaminants. You can use purified water, bottled spring water, or tap water treated with a de-chlorinator to remove chlorine and other chemicals.

Types of Water To Use

Hermit crabs require both freshwater and saltwater to maintain their health properly. The best type of freshwater to use is bottled spring water or purified water.

Tap water usually contains chlorine and other harmful chemicals that can be deadly for hermit crabs if ingested in large amounts. The ideal type of saltwater for hermit crabs is marine-grade aquarium salt mixed with purified or bottled spring water.

You can buy marine-grade aquarium salt at your local pet store or online. Avoid using table salt or sea salt as they often contain additives that can harm your hermit crab.

Proper Water Temperature And Salinity Levels

Maintaining the proper temperature and salinity level of the water is crucial for your hermit crab’s health. The ideal temperature range for both freshwater and saltwater is between 72-82°F (22-28°C). However, it’s best to keep the temperature at around 76°F (24°C) since this is the optimal temperature range for most species of hermit crabs.

The salinity level should be around 1.020-1.023 SG (specific gravity) for a marine tank, while freshwater should have no added salinity level. It’s important not to add too much or too little aquarium salt as it can cause stress on your hermit crab, leading to health problems like dehydration.

Providing Both A Shallow Dish For Drinking And A Deeper Dish For Soaking

It’s essential to provide your hermit crab with both a shallow dish for drinking and a deeper dish for soaking. The shallow dish should be filled with fresh water, while the deeper one should have saltwater. The freshwater dish should be shallow enough so that your hermit crab can easily access it but not too deep that they could drown.

The water level should be at around 1/2 inch or 1.25cm. As for the deeper dish, it should have a depth of at least three inches or seven cm deep to allow your hermit crab to fully submerge themselves if they need to soak.

Soaking helps them hydrate and keep their gills moist, which is essential for their breathing. Providing clean water is crucial for your hermit crab’s health.

Choosing the right type of water and maintaining proper temperature and salinity levels is important. Providing both a shallow dish for drinking and a deeper one for soaking is also necessary to prevent dehydration and stress.

Handling Hermit Crabs

Hermit crabs are delicate creatures that require gentle handling. They can easily become stressed or injured if not handled properly. Here are some tips for handling your hermit crab safely:

1. Approach your hermit crab slowly and calmly. Sudden movements or loud noises can startle them and cause stress.

2. Always handle your hermit crab gently and slowly, making sure to support its entire body with both hands. 3. Never pick up a hermit crab by its shell or legs, as this can cause damage to their exoskeleton or limbs.

4. Avoid handling your hermit crab during molting periods, as they are particularly vulnerable during this time. 5. If your hermit crab is showing signs of stress such as hiding in its shell or shaking, it is best to leave it alone for a while and try again later.

The Importance of Allowing Hermit Crabs to Molt in Peace

Molting is a crucial process for the growth and health of a hermit crab, but it also puts them at risk for injury or death if not handled properly. Here are some tips on how to help your hermit crab molt safely:

1. Provide plenty of substrate for burrowing – at least 6 inches deep – so that your hermit crab has plenty of space to molt without being disturbed. 2. Avoid handling or disturbing your hermit crab during the molting process as this can cause undue stress and potentially harm them.

3. Keep the humidity levels high (around 70-80%) during molting so that the exoskeleton can be shed more easily. 4. Provide extra shells in different sizes and shapes nearby so that when the old shell is shed, there is another one readily available for the new soft body underneath to occupy.

5. Monitor their activity closely during the few weeks it takes for them to emerge from their shells again. Once the new exoskeleton has hardened, they can return to their normal routine.

By following these tips and allowing your hermit crabs to molt in peace, you can ensure their safety and health during this important process. Remember that patience is key when caring for hermit crabs, and a calm and nurturing environment can go a long way toward keeping them happy and healthy.

Molting: A Crucial Time for Hermit Crabs

Hermit crabs are fascinating creatures that undergo a unique process called molting. Molting is the shedding of the outer exoskeleton, which allows the hermit crab to grow. Molting is a crucial time for hermit crabs, and it’s essential to understand the process to provide proper care during this time.

Understanding the Molting Process

Before molting, a hermit crab will stop eating and become inactive. It will then shed its old exoskeleton and begin absorbing water to expand its new skin.

During this time, hermit crabs are incredibly vulnerable and can be easily injured or killed. It can take up to several weeks for a hermit crab to complete the molting process fully.

After molting, they’ll usually bury themselves in the sand or substrate until their new exoskeleton hardens. During this period, they’re still vulnerable, so it’s crucial not to disturb them.

Preparing For Molting by Providing Extra Shells, Food, and Water

To prepare for molting, it’s important to provide your hermit crab with everything it needs beforehand. One of the most important things you can do is have extra shells available for your hermit crab to move into after molting.

Having extra shells with different sizes and shapes will allow your crab to choose one that fits well with its newly grown body. Additionally, make sure there’s plenty of food available before they start getting ready for molting since they won’t be eating at all during this time.

Providing enough water is essential as well since they’ll absorb water during this process. Make sure there are shallow dishes of fresh water available in addition to deeper dishes of saltwater or dechlorinated tap water.

The Importance of Keeping Quiet During Molting

When your hermit crab is molting, it’s essential to keep the environment as quiet as possible. Loud noises or vibrations can stress them out and inhibit the molting process. You should also avoid handling or disturbing them during this time since they’re extremely vulnerable.

It’s also essential to ensure that the substrate is deep enough for them to bury themselves entirely while they’re molting since they’ll need that added protection. Additionally, make sure there are no sharp objects or potential hazards in their tank.

The Aftermath of Molting

After your hermit crab has finished molting, you’ll notice that its exoskeleton will be left behind. It’s essential not to remove this; instead, leave it in the tank since your hermit crab will eat it for the calcium and minerals it contains.

Your hermit crab’s new exoskeleton will be soft at first but will harden over time. During this period, it’s still important to give them plenty of space and keep things quiet so they can adjust safely to their new shell.

Understanding the molting process is crucial for providing proper care for your pet hermit crabs. By preparing before, keeping quiet during, and being patient afterward, you’ll help ensure a successful molt and a healthy hermit crab overall.

Common Health Issues

Shell Rot

One of the most common health issues in hermit crabs is shell rot, which is a condition where the shell becomes discolored and soft. This can be caused by poor water quality, lack of calcium supplements, or bacterial infections.

If left untreated, it can lead to death. To prevent shell rot, make sure to provide clean and appropriate water for your hermit crab, as well as calcium supplements such as cuttlebone or crushed eggshells.

If you notice any signs of shell rot on your hermit crab’s shell, such as discoloration or soft spots, it’s important to act quickly. Isolate the affected crab in a separate tank with clean substrate and water while you treat the infection.

You can use an antifungal medication like Betadine or Nystatin to treat mild cases of shell rot. For more severe cases, you may need to consult a veterinarian.


Another common issue with hermit crabs is mite infestation. Mites are small parasites that feed on the blood of your hermit crab and can cause significant harm if left untreated. Signs of mites include tiny red dots on the surface of your crab’s skin or on their exoskeleton.

To prevent mites, make sure to keep your tank clean and hygienic at all times. Regularly replace the substrate and wash any accessories with hot water before introducing them back into the tank.

If you suspect that your hermit crab has mites, isolate them right away in a separate tank from other crabs so that they do not spread the infestation to others in the colony. You will need an antiparasitic medication like Ivermectin or Fenbendazole to eradicate these pests fully.

Bacterial Infections

Bacterial infections can also be a problem for hermit crabs. If you notice any signs of infection, such as discolored or swollen limbs, lethargy, or loss of appetite, it’s essential to act quickly to prevent the infection from spreading.

To treat bacterial infections in hermit crabs, you may need specialized antibiotics prescribed by a veterinarian who has experience dealing with exotic animals. It is important not to self-medicate your hermit crab without consulting a vet first.


Stress is another common issue that can affect the health of your hermit crab. Stress can be caused by many factors such as inadequate hiding places or overcrowded living conditions.

Providing plenty of hiding spots and space for each crab in the tank, along with maintaining an appropriate temperature and humidity level will help alleviate stress in your pet. If you suspect that your hermit crab is stressed out and showing signs of lethargy or unusual behavior like burying themselves excessively or not moving at all for long periods, make sure to take corrective measures immediately.


As with any pet ownership situation, ensuring proper care and nutrition is paramount when it comes to keeping your beloved critters healthy and happy. By following these tips for identifying potential health issues and taking appropriate measures when problems arise, you will have much success in providing optimal care for any Hermit Crab under your care!


After reading this article, it should be clear that hermit crabs can be fascinating and rewarding pets, but they require proper care to thrive. From housing to diet to handling, there are many factors to consider when taking care of these little creatures. It’s important to remember that hermit crabs are living beings with complex needs.

Providing them with the right environment and nutrition is essential for their health and well-being. A good way to ensure your hermit crab stays healthy is by monitoring their activity levels, eating habits, and behavior.

While they may seem low-maintenance at first glance, taking care of hermit crabs requires a lot of attention and dedication. But the effort is worth it when you see your pet happy and thriving in its environment.

One key takeaway from this article is the importance of research before getting a pet hermit crab. Make sure you have a good understanding of their needs before bringing one home.

This includes researching the right type of tank, substrate, food, water, and other essentials. Remember that hermit crabs can live for up to 20 years if cared for properly.

That’s a significant amount of time! With proper care and attention given over their entire lifespan – including during molting periods – you can provide your little friend with many happy years full of exploration and adventures.

Caring for a hermit crab requires patience, attention to detail, and consistent effort but it can be an incredibly rewarding experience for both the pet owner and the pet itself. With some research beforehand on how best to take care of them along with continued monitoring on an ongoing basis thereafter will result in a happy healthy companion who rewards his owner with endless entertainment!


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