For many, especially to those who have kabourophobia, this piece of information may come down as a bit too much. Crabs are inside your house! Not yours per say, but humans in general. And this is no freaky invasion by the crab colony to take over the human colony, but a well thought off decision made by the humans themselves: a decision to make crabs their pets, hermit crabs to be exact. What can the traditional pet lovers of the dog and cat kind do? The ones who want to stick to traditionalism can go pet their pets and the ones looking for a change or those who’ve already made a switch to the unorthodoxy can continue reading. Whoever said that one can’t have traditional pets as well as non-traditional pets is not to be believed (although make sure they don’t come face to face with any other of your pets as it might start a gang war), for hermit crabs make for an exciting addition to your animal kingdom if you’re an avid pet lover. Granted that a crab won’t lick your face or wag its tail every time you come back home, but it won’t eat that much and won’t have to be taken outside daily for a walk either. Like any other pets, hermits too crave for shelter, food, love, and water. And despite common belief that crabs don’t live longer, they continue to live for as long as 20 years, only if proper care and attention is given to them. Now, what constitutes that proper care and attention is given below, so continue reading.
Caring For Hermit Crabs
To begin with, never judge a book by its cover. And never judge a crab by its name - hermit. Though the dictionary meaning of hermit means ‘one who lives in solitude’, hermit crabs are extremely social creatures and sometimes, their gang goes up to as much as 100. So, don’t commit the mistake of isolating and adopting just one, lest it comes back biting at you every time you enter its premises. Go for more than one, as far as your limit allow.
Now based on the number of crabs you’re bringing home; you’ll need to provide them with equally large shelter or crabitat. Your bed and pool won’t count. An aquarium with 10 gallons of capacity or more is recommended. The job is not done yet. Since they’ve been removed from their natural habitat; you need to decorate the aquarium with sand, spiral shells, clam style shells, natural sponge, substrate, and play toys to make it as close to their natural environ as possible. The sand needs to be evenly spread on the surface of the aquarium, with rest of the stuff arranged in whatever way. It is to fool the crab into believing that it’s back to where it belongs, the shells are for the crab to invade into, substrate is for crab to dig and build a cave, and the sponge is there to keep the environment humid enough to make the crab feel at home.
Because hermit crabs are tropical creatures, they need warm and humid environment with temperature range of 70-85 degrees F and 75-85% of relative humidity. An improper temperature can slow down your crab’s metabolism and send it into a lethargic state. An improper relative humidity can cause suffocation to the crab; it won’t be able to breathe properly through its hardened gills (that require air to be humid enough). Have a thermometer and a hygrometer in place to monitor the temperature and humidity levels.
Provide them with non-chlorinated water to drink on a daily basis. Either place a large enough shell or shells if necessary, in the downside up position and fill them with de-chlorinated water. For the same, water treatment drops for de-chlorination are available in the market. If it’s possible, take a large dish and bury it under the sand and fill it with water. To the crabs, it will appear as if they have been provided with a natural water body expanse. It should be large enough that the crabs can submerge themselves when they feel the need to be moist, without getting themselves drowned.
Provide them with a pinch of crab food, once a day, a pinch for every crab. The crab food is easily available from the local pet stores. Provide no more than a pinch for they are small animals and eat little. If you see food leftovers anywhere in the aquarium, remove it first before adding fresh food. A regular change of diet is also recommended as crabs are natural scavengers and eat almost anything they come across. Fruits, vegetables, cereal, meat etc should make bring a nice variety in their diet and would keep them happy.
Hermit Crab Care Tips
If you’ve just got yourself the crabs, give them time to adjust into the new environment. They aren’t commercially bred in captivity; they are brought right from the sea shores.
Fill the aquarium with nice little play toys that your crabs can party with like natural rocks, wooden logs, plastic plants, a half coconut shell etc. Use your creativity!
When implementing on the change of diet, don’t provide them spicy, hot, or preservative foods. Provide them with just naturally cooked meat and vegetables. And wash the fruits thoroughly before feeding. Feed only a little!
When you take them out of their natural habitat to play with, do it only for a little while because they’ll have trouble in breathing in an environment with low humidity.
They are gentle, slippery, and stingy; handle with care if using your own bare hands.
Give them a bath once every week. Fill a tub with lukewarm water (de-chlorinated) and place the crabs inside it. The level of the water should be just enough that doesn’t drown them alive.
Clean their natural habitat once in every three months.
Hermit crabs require just a little, but regular attention. Once that is provided, you can have for yourself, healthy and happy pets that’ll live as long as your traditional pets do. Happy Caring!