Perhaps because of their novelty, land hermit crabs seem to often be “gifted”… and then “re-gifted.” Our first two crabs came from my sister-in-law, who had received them as a housewarming gift and wasn’t quite sure what to do with them. Not surprisingly, the pair arrived in the tiny plastic box they had been sold in, along with a handful of fish gravel and a plastic palm tree. Hermit crabs can make great little pets, but there’s a lot more to their care than what an employee at a mall kiosk may tell you! Consider some of the following before you put a crab under the Christmas tree.
Because hermit crabs have a complicated life cycle and have never been successfully raised in captivity, “pet” hermit crabs are all collected from the wild. That means they basically go from a tropical beach to a shipping box to a store. It’s a stressful journey, especially since they often wait in poor conditions for someone to take them home. That’s why you should have proper accommodations ready for them before you ever pick them out! You can find a great hermit crab setup article here, with a list of all the things you’ll need for a healthy, happy hermie.
If you see more than one (or two) crabs that you like… get them. They’re accustomed to living in large groups, and will fare much better with friends! Remember to pick out a few extra shells that are about your crabs’ sizes. Given the opportunity, they may wish to swap into something a little more comfortable. I’ve always preferred “natural” looking shells, but the painted ones at the kiosk are okay, too. Your crab will pick the one that suits him best, no matter how pretty it is (or isn’t).
Once your new family additions are home, it’s not at all unusual for them to take some much needed R&R. Don’t worry if your crab quickly buries himself in the nice, warm, damp sand… and stays there. It’s hard not to dig him up, I know! You’re ready to interact with your new pet. However, it’s important to leave him be, even for two weeks or more. Now that he’s found himself somewhere he likes and feels safe, he might take the opportunity to molt. He’ll emerge again when he’s feeling good, ready to eat and explore.
The two biggest factors in helping him recover from his journey are temperature (70-80 degrees F) and humidity (75-90%), so keep checking those parameters, and make adjustments as needed. Too cold or too dry conditions are always disastrous for your crab.
You may not notice your crab’s nighttime excursions. Keep setting out fresh food and water, and smooth the sand around the dishes. That way you’ll be able to tell if he’s out and about while you’re sleeping.
While hermit crabs may only be a few dollars apiece, providing them with a proper home takes time and more money. These charming little creatures are not “throwaway” pets, and can live for upwards of twenty years with the right care!
Other Posts You Might Enjoy:
- A crabby story (with a happy ending)
- Holiday Pet Hazards
- How To Keep Your Cat Out of the Christmas Tree!