Hermit Crabs are unique and somewhat exotic pets that are relatively easy to take care of. While there are close to five hundred various species of Hermit Crabs, the ones that are terrestrial, or that can breathe air and live on land are the ones that you will see for sale in pet stores. Most people who have Hermit Crabs end up having at least six of them as they do well in groups, despite what their name implies. In fact, in the wild, Hermit Crabs usually live in colonies of up to a couple hundred crabs.
Caring for a Hermit Crab is not difficult, but there are a couple of important general things you should be aware of for the care of all crabs and a couple of important care tips for specific breeds of crabs.
There are two breeds of Hermit Crabs that are very popular in pet stores in the United States. The purple pincer crab has distinctive dark pincers and claws and tends to live further inland, in forests than other crabs. This crab has adapted to not need salt water and to be able to drink fresh water. These crabs go to water to mate, lay eggs and to drink and otherwise live the rest of their lives on land, eating whatever they can find or catch.
The other type of hermit crab that is commonly sold in American pet stores is the Ecuadorian crab. This crab naturally lives close to the ocean on the beach and in tidal pools. As a consequence, they have evolved so they can metabolize salt water and have to have it as part of their diets. People who have Ecuadorian crabs need to be aware of this salt water requirement and put a saltwater dish in the aquarium.
Hermit crabs can eat almost anything as long as it is not spicy. However, you should not feed them random table scraps as they need a balanced diet. Many pet stores sell specialized hermit crab food that has a nutrition content specially balanced for the crabs. Also, you can feed them any vegetable, meat, fish or bread.
You should remove any uneaten food at the end of each day. The crabs will bury uneaten food which will rot and smell. Also, you should change out the sand in the aquarium about every six weeks to clean away waste and bits of uneaten food.
Your crab needs to be kept in an aquarium at a temperature between 70F and 85F and a relative humidity of at least 70%. Crabs that are exposed to a relative humidity below 70% for too long will slowly die. It is common for crab owners to use a heat lamp and humidifier to regulate the temperature and humidity of the crab’s aquarium, especially if they live in a colder climate or during the winter months. Another tactic is to place a heating pad under the aquarium at night in the winter to regulate the temperature.