Okay! I know! I know! I was there once. You got cajoled into buying a hermit crab because your son or daughter begged you for one. Now, you’re at home with this crustacean and you’re not quite sure what to do with him. Trust me! You’re not alone. Each of us who now finds pleasure in keeping hermit crabs (and it’s true what they say - they’re more fun by the dozen!) has been in your shoes. So for those of you who are new to the hobby and the animal - and those of you who are veterans, but just want a refresher course - here’s hermit crab care in a nutshell. Temperature First, you need to know that your Harriet the hermit crab needs certain temperature requirements in order to stay healthy. She should never be exposed to temperatures lower than 72°F. If a hermit crab is exposed to consistently low temperatures, it can kill him. On the other hand, you certainly don’t want him to “bake” as the sun streams through the window into his cage. You can tell if your crab is overheated. You’ll notice a musty odor. He’ll also be discharging brown liquid. Humidity Along with an even temperature your Harriet the Crab needs a constant level of humidity as well. These crustaceans thrive in an environment where the humidity level is at least 70 percent. You don’t need to measure this everyday, as long as you realize that your hermit crab’s home should have a moist “tropical” feel to it. Most new owners of these guys don’t realize that they need to lay down a substrate in the cage as well. Heck, if you were like me when I adopted my family’s first crabs, I didn’t even know what a substrate was (honest!). It’s just a name given to the material you place at the bottom of the cage. Your crab needs it because he burrows. He loves to burrow. So think about this. Sand is a favorite of many owners because it’s what is found in the crab’s native habitat. But if this is impossible, you can find other options at your local pet store. Regardless of the material you use, make sure that your substrate is deep enough that the crabs can bury. But you don’t want it so deep that your friends aren’t receiving the benefits of the heater (and yes, you need one of these too!) What’s next? Well, now that you’ve got your pet all set in his new home, you really need to give some thought to what to feed him. If your crab were living in the “wild” he would search out a diet that included not only fallen fruit and plants and grasses, but also decaying wood and leaf litter (this may be a bit hard to believe!) Sad to say, but not enough research has actually been performed on the habits of the hermit crab to say what the healthiest diet is for a captive crab. But we do know a few things. Nutrients like calcium, carotene and a variety of antioxidants are important to his health. Did you know, for example, that a crab whose diet is carotene-deficient fades in color after he’s gone through the molting process? He’ll go from a gorgeous reddish in color to a washed out tan or gray. So how do you keep his color bright and vibrant, feed him brightly colored vegetables, like corn and carrots! Let’s just put it this way, the best and healthiest diet you can feed your hermit crab is all the good healthy food that you eat. Before you run to the cabinet, let me explain a thing or two. Boxed macaroni and cheese is not healthy food. Nor are potato chips. And for that matter, neither is Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. But fruits, vegetables even meat and fish - these will all help maintain your crab’s health. But keep in mind that these omnivorous animals also enjoy tannin-rich foods, like tree bark and even oak leaves. Before you feed your crabs anything like this, though, be sure to rinse them thoroughly and even dry them. Your crab really loves to “crunch” when he munches. You may have already bought your commercial crab food, but many experts now think that’s not even necessary. Feeding your crab healthy food - fresh fruits, vegetables, meats and fish! Well, look at Harriet the Hermit Crab in her tank. She can’t wait to crunch down on that carrot in your hand. Did I just hear her say, “What’s up doc?”

hermit crab shells


feeding a hermit crab


hermit crab care


Peter Stafford, a well-known keeper of hermit crabs, shares his knowledge with articles, tips and hints on these unusal pets. Peter's website Hermit Crabs Care gives much more information.
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