Care Sheet for Hermit Crabs
Hermit Crabs make fun and interesting pets, enjoyed by children and adults. They require a relatively simple “crabitat” and minimal maintenance. Hermit Crabs are native to coastal areas of Central and South America. They can often be found in large groups, foraging for food, especially at night. For best results, house 3 or more Hermit Crabs together. Adult crabs can reach sizes from 6” to 8" in about 2 years and can live 10 years or longer with proper care.
A 10 gallon enclosure is sufficient for small Hermit Crabs. When crabs get larger than 3”, they will need a 20 gallon (30" x 12" x 13"H) enclosure. You can house 4 to 6 Hermit Crabs together in a 20 gallon enclosure but make sure each one has sufficient area for burrowing.
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Hermit Crabs are burrowers and require a deep substrate. Your Hermit Crab should be able to completely bury himself in the substrate. A 2 to 1 combination of all-purpose sand and dampened coconut fiber, such as Zoo Med Eco Earth, will provide the consistency needed for digging, burrowing and holding humidity. Your Hermit Crab should be able to easily dig in the substrate while the tunnels and burrows he creates retain their shape.
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Hermit Crabs require a daytime temperature gradient of 78° to 83° Fahrenheit, and nighttime temperatures of 68° to 73° F, which can be achieved using a heat lamp, such as Exo-Terra Sun-Glo Neodymium Lamp. We recommend controlling heating elements with a thermostat, such as the BAH-500 or BAH-1000DC, and monitoring the temperatures with a thermometer. For nighttime, the Zoo Med Nightlight Red Bulbs are a great choice to provide night time heat and a little light to allow viewing of nighttime activities.
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Hermit Crabs benefit from UV lighting; a low wattage bulb, such as Exo-Terra Sun-Glo Neodymium Lamp, in a small enclosure will provide the necessary benefits without overheating your enclosure. Remember to change your UV bulbs every 6 months for maximum effectiveness.
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Hermit Crabs should have plenty of rocks and branches for climbing. Your Crabs will outgrow their shells as they grow so include several extra shells per crab in the enclosure. Shells should be larger than the current one to allow them to grow into as they molt.
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Hermit Crabs breathe through gills so they need to have a moist environment. Maintain no less than 70% humidity. This is easily achieved using a misting or fogging system, such as the Exo-Terra Monsoon High-Pressure Rainfall Misting System or Zoo Med Repti Fogger Terrarium Humidifier. Monitor humidity levels with a Big Apple Humidity Gauge. Hermit Crabs will generally molt once or twice a year. Molting behavior includes burying themselves in sand and they should not be disturbed during this time.
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Provide a large water dish of spring water or dechlorinated water. You can imbed the dishes in sand to mimic a shoreline. Dishes with a sloped edge, such as Zoo Med Repti Ramp Bowls, work well for this purpose. Make sure your Hermit Crabs can easily get into and out of the water.
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Hermit Crabs are omnivorous scavengers so provide a varied diet including hermit crab food, dead crickets, fish, fish flakes, potatoes, apples, etc.
To ensure proper nutrition, you can coat your Hermit Crab’s food with vitamin and calcium powders, such as Zoo Med Repti Calcium with D3 or Rep-Cal Calcium, before feeding.
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Hermit Crabs require minimal maintenance as they usually go to the bathroom in one section of their cage. Sand substrates allow for quick cleaning of waste using one of our scoopers. The sand substrate should be completely thrown out and the entire cage, including all accessories, should be washed with hot water at least every 2 weeks.
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