Hermit Crab Care Guide: Providing a Happy Home for Your Crustacean Companions

Hermit Crab

Hermit Crab Care Guide: Providing a Happy Home for Your Crustacean Companions


Welcome to the fascinating world of hermit crab care! These tiny creatures may not be the most conventional of pets, but they make wonderful companions with their unique personalities and captivating behaviors.

If you’re new to the world of hermit crabs or seeking to enhance your care knowledge, you’ve come to the right place.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take you through the ins and outs of hermit crab care, providing you with all the information you need to keep your hermit crabs happy and thriving.


Hermit crabs are unique and captivating pets. These small crustaceans are often found inhabiting discarded seashells, which they use as portable homes.

They come in a variety of species, with different sizes, colors, and shell preferences. But what makes hermit crabs truly intriguing is their social nature and their endearing habits.

In this comprehensive hermit crab care guide, we’ll explore every aspect of caring for these delightful creatures, from understanding their behaviors to setting up the perfect habitat, ensuring a nutritious diet, and maintaining their health.

By the end of this guide, you’ll be well-equipped to provide the best care for your hermit crabs.

Getting to Know Hermit Crabs

Before delving into the intricacies of hermit crab care, it’s essential to understand the basics of these unique creatures.

From their natural behaviors to their life cycle, gaining knowledge about hermit crabs will help you provide the best care possible. Let’s explore what you need to know about getting to know hermit crabs.

hermit crab

What Are Hermit Crabs?

  • Crustaceans: Hermit crabs are small crustaceans, and they belong to the superfamily Paguroidea. Unlike other crustaceans, they have soft, asymmetrical abdomens, which they protect by living in empty gastropod shells. These shells serve as their portable homes.
  • Variety of Species: Hermit crabs come in various species, each with its own characteristics. Some common hermit crab species kept as pets include Coenobita clypeatus (Caribbean Hermit Crab), Coenobita compressus (Ecuadorian Hermit Crab), and Coenobita perlatus (Strawberry Hermit Crab).

Hermit Crab Behavior

Understanding hermit crab behavior is crucial to providing appropriate care. Hermit crabs are known for their curious and active nature. Here are some fascinating behaviors to watch out for:

  • Shell Swapping: Hermit crabs frequently exchange shells as they grow or encounter more suitable options. This behavior is both practical and mesmerizing to observe.
  • Social Interactions: Hermit crabs enjoy being in the company of other hermit crabs. Their social behaviors, including forming groups and cooperative activities, are truly captivating.
  • Nocturnal Activity: Hermit crabs are primarily active during the night, which makes them intriguing creatures to observe after dark. Their night-time adventures include exploring their habitat, finding food, and interacting with one another.

Lifespan and Growth

Hermit crabs have a lifespan of several years, and some species can live up to 20 years in optimal conditions. Their growth occurs through a fascinating process called molting, where they shed their exoskeleton to accommodate their increasing size.

Understanding this growth process is essential for their care, and we’ll explore it in more detail in a later section.

Hermit crabs are unique and captivating pets. These small crustaceans are often found inhabiting discarded seashells, which they use as portable homes.

They come in a variety of species, with different sizes, colors, and shell preferences. But what makes hermit crabs truly intriguing is their social nature and their endearing habits.

In this comprehensive hermit crab care guide, we’ll explore every aspect of caring for these delightful creatures, from understanding their behaviors to setting up the perfect habitat, ensuring a nutritious diet, and maintaining their health.

By the end of this guide, you’ll be well-equipped to provide the best care for your hermit crabs.

Setting Up the Ideal Habitat

Creating a suitable habitat for your hermit crabs is essential for their well-being. A well-designed enclosure ensures they can exhibit their natural behaviors, remain healthy, and thrive. Let’s dive into the details of setting up the perfect hermit crab habitat.

hermit crab

Selecting an Enclosure

  • Tank Options: When it comes to housing hermit crabs, you have several options, including glass or plastic tanks and terrariums. The size of the enclosure depends on the number of hermit crabs you plan to keep. A general guideline is that a 10-gallon tank can comfortably accommodate a few hermit crabs.
  • Space Considerations: Ensure that the tank has enough space for the hermit crabs to move around, explore, and interact. Provide multiple levels or hiding spots to create a dynamic environment.
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Substrate and Humidity

  • Substrate Choice: The substrate in your hermit crab enclosure should replicate their natural environment. A mix of sand and coconut fiber works well. This substrate should be deep enough for them to dig and bury themselves, as they enjoy digging and tunneling.
  • Humidity Control: Hermit crabs require a humid environment to breathe effectively through gills. Maintain proper humidity levels by misting the substrate with dechlorinated water regularly. You can also provide a water dish for them to soak in, which helps maintain the humidity.

Temperature and Lighting

  • Temperature Range: Hermit crabs thrive in a warm environment with temperatures between 75-85°F (24-29°C). It’s crucial to use a heat pad or heat lamp to maintain these temperatures. Avoid exposing them to extreme temperature fluctuations.
  • Lighting Requirements: Hermit crabs need a natural light cycle, so place their enclosure in a room with access to natural daylight or provide a UVB light source. This helps regulate their circadian rhythm.

Decor and Enrichment

  • Natural Decor: Enhance your hermit crab habitat with various decorations and enrichments to make it more appealing. Consider providing seashells for them to swap into, climbing structures, hiding spots, tunnels, and artificial plants to create a natural and stimulating environment.
  • Shell Options: Offer a variety of empty seashells for your hermit crabs to choose from. The diversity in shell shapes and sizes ensures that each crab can find a suitable home as they grow.


  • Routine Cleaning: Regular maintenance is essential. Remove any uneaten food promptly, replace water in their dish to keep it clean, and ensure that the substrate remains moist. Routine maintenance prevents mold and bacterial growth.
  • Deep Cleaning: Periodically, perform a deep clean of the enclosure. This involves replacing the substrate and cleaning all items within the tank to prevent mold and bacterial growth. It’s essential to provide a clean and healthy living environment for your hermit crabs.

By setting up the ideal habitat for your hermit crabs, you create a safe and stimulating environment where they can exhibit their natural behaviors and lead a healthy and happy life.

Proper substrate, humidity control, temperature regulation, and enrichments are the keys to ensuring your hermit crabs thrive in their home.

Diet and Feeding

Feeding your hermit crabs is a crucial aspect of their care. These omnivorous creatures have a diverse diet, and providing them with the right nutrition is essential for their health.

In this section, we will explore the dietary needs of hermit crabs and how to feed them for optimal well-being.

Hermit Crab Diet

Hermit crabs are not picky eaters, but it’s vital to offer them a balanced diet that caters to their nutritional requirements. A typical hermit crab diet includes:

  • Commercial Hermit Crab Food: High-quality hermit crab food pellets or powders are available and can serve as a staple in their diet. These commercial foods are specifically formulated to meet their nutritional needs, often including a blend of protein, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Fresh Fruits and Vegetables: To provide a well-rounded diet, offer a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. Apples, bananas, carrots, leafy greens, and other produce are excellent choices. These foods provide essential vitamins and minerals, as well as hydration.
  • Protein Sources: Hermit crabs require protein for growth and molting. Offer them sources of protein like cooked eggs, seafood (shrimp, crab, and fish), and mealworms. These protein-rich foods are essential for their development.
  • Calcium Supplements: Hermit crabs need calcium for the health of their exoskeletons. Crushed eggshells or cuttlebones are excellent sources of calcium. Providing these supplements helps ensure their shells remain strong and intact.

Feeding Schedule

Hermit crabs are primarily active during the night, so it’s best to feed them in the evening. Offer a small amount of food that they can consume within a few hours to prevent mold growth and keep their enclosure clean.

Be attentive to their eating habits and adjust the portion size accordingly to avoid wasting food.

Water and Saltwater Pools

Hermit crabs require access to both freshwater and saltwater pools within their enclosure. These pools serve various purposes:

  • Freshwater Pool: Hermit crabs use freshwater pools for hydration and drinking. Ensure the water in this pool is dechlorinated and maintained at the appropriate temperature.
  • Saltwater Pool: Hermit crabs use the saltwater pool to soak and maintain the salinity of their exoskeleton. This helps them stay healthy and supports the integrity of their shells.

To maintain water quality, regularly clean and change the water in these pools, removing any waste or debris. Monitoring water quality ensures your hermit crabs have access to clean and healthy hydration options.

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Feeding your hermit crabs a well-balanced diet is essential for their growth, health, and overall well-being. Offering a variety of foods, including commercial hermit crab food, fresh fruits and vegetables, and protein sources, will keep them nourished.

Remember to provide calcium supplements to support their exoskeleton health. Alongside their diet, maintaining access to freshwater and saltwater pools ensures they remain hydrated and can maintain the salinity of their exoskeletons.

Consistent feeding and proper hydration contribute to the vitality of your hermit crabs.

Molting: The Mystery and Magic

Molting is a natural and fascinating process in a hermit crab’s life. It’s essential to understand this phenomenon as it’s a crucial aspect of their growth and well-being.

In this section, we will delve into the intriguing world of hermit crab molting, exploring what it is, how to recognize its signs, and the care it requires.

hermit crab

What Is Molting?

Molting is the process of shedding their exoskeleton, which is their hard outer shell. Hermit crabs undergo this process periodically throughout their lives, typically more frequently when they are young and still growing.

Molting allows them to accommodate their increasing size and repair any damage to their exoskeleton.

Molting Signs

Recognizing the signs of molting is crucial for providing the necessary care and ensuring that your hermit crab undergoes a successful molt. Some common signs that a hermit crab is preparing to molt include:

  • Reduced Activity: Hermit crabs often become less active before molting. They may retreat to a hiding spot and remain there for extended periods.
  • Digging Behavior: Some hermit crabs engage in extensive digging as they prepare for molting. They create a burrow in the substrate where they will shed their exoskeleton.
  • Changes in Appetite: A hermit crab may lose interest in food leading up to a molt. It’s common for them to reduce their food intake in preparation.
  • Reclusive Behavior: During molting, hermit crabs are highly vulnerable and prefer to be alone. They may hide and avoid interaction with other hermit crabs.

Molting Care

Providing proper care during the molting process is essential, as hermit crabs are vulnerable at this stage. Here are some important considerations for caring for a molting hermit crab:

  • Isolation: If possible, it’s best to separate molting hermit crabs from others in the enclosure. This reduces the risk of disturbance and potential stress caused by other hermit crabs.
  • Quiet Environment: Keep the environment as quiet as possible during molting. Avoid sudden loud noises or excessive handling, as hermit crabs are sensitive during this phase.
  • Humidity and Moisture: Maintain high humidity levels during molting, as this helps facilitate the shedding process. The substrate in their burrow should be moist but not waterlogged.
  • Observation: While minimal disturbance is crucial, it’s essential to monitor your molting hermit crab to ensure everything progresses as expected. Keep an eye on their progress without direct interaction.

Molting is a remarkable aspect of a hermit crab’s life, and understanding and facilitating this process is crucial for their health and well-being.

Providing the right conditions and minimal disturbance ensures that your hermit crabs can molt successfully, repair their exoskeleton, and continue growing.

It’s a process that showcases the resilience and adaptability of these intriguing creatures.

Hermit Crab Health

Maintaining the health of your hermit crabs is of utmost importance to ensure they live a long and thriving life. Regular observations and preventive measures can help keep them in top condition.

In this section, we will explore common health issues that hermit crabs can face, how to recognize the signs of illness, and essential tips for maintaining their well-being.

Common Health Issues

Hermit crabs, like all living creatures, can experience various health issues. Being vigilant about their behavior and physical condition can help identify problems early and take appropriate action. Some common health issues in hermit crabs include:

  • Shell Rot: This condition occurs when a hermit crab’s shell is damaged or compromised, leading to bacterial or fungal infections. Signs of shell rot include foul odors, discoloration, or pitting on the shell. Prompt treatment is crucial.
  • Mites: Hermit crabs can be prone to mite infestations. Mites are tiny parasites that can irritate and harm your hermit crab. Signs of mite infestations include excessive scratching, visible mites on the hermit crab, or small red or brown specks on their exoskeleton.
  • Bacterial Infections: Hermit crabs can develop bacterial infections, often due to poor water quality. Symptoms may include lethargy, loss of appetite, or visible lesions on their exoskeleton.
  • Stress: Stress can manifest in hermit crabs as behavioral changes, such as increased aggression or withdrawal. Common sources of stress include overcrowding, poor environmental conditions, or excessive handling.
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Shell Care

Proper shell care is essential for hermit crabs, as they rely on shells for protection. Ensuring their shells are in good condition and offering a variety of appropriately-sized shells is crucial.

Regularly inspect their shells to ensure they are free from damage or signs of wear. Damaged or worn-out shells should be replaced promptly to provide your hermit crabs with suitable housing options.

Handling Caution

While it’s tempting to handle your hermit crabs, they are delicate creatures, and excessive handling can cause stress and damage to their exoskeleton.

If you need to handle them for maintenance or observation, do so gently and rarely. Always be mindful of their well-being and comfort, and return them to their habitat promptly.

Maintaining the health of your hermit crabs requires a combination of proactive care, regular observation, and prompt action when issues arise.

Preventing health problems through good hygiene, environmental quality, and providing a suitable diet is key. And when health concerns do arise, addressing them promptly with proper care and treatment can help ensure a long and healthy life for your hermit crabs.

Handling and Interaction

Hermit crabs are not typically known for their desire for human interaction, but that doesn’t mean you can’t observe and enjoy their captivating behaviors.

Here are some tips for respectful handling and interaction with your hermit crabs:

  • Observation: Spend time observing your hermit crabs in their enclosure. These creatures exhibit a variety of natural behaviors, such as shell-swapping, climbing, and exploring their habitat. Observing these activities can be incredibly fascinating and educational.
  • Gentle Handling: If you need to handle your hermit crabs for any reason, do so with utmost care. Cup them in your hands, supporting their body gently to avoid damaging their exoskeleton. Avoid squeezing them or making sudden movements.
  • Minimize Stress: Limit handling to an absolute minimum, as hermit crabs can become stressed by human contact. Their delicate nature makes them susceptible to stress-related health issues, so respecting their preference for solitude is essential.

Remember that while hermit crabs may not seek interaction, they are incredible creatures to observe and learn from.

By minimizing handling and focusing on providing an enriching environment, you can give them the best care and allow them to flourish in their own unique way.


Hermit crabs are extraordinary pets that offer unique opportunities for observation and care. By understanding their natural behaviors, providing the ideal habitat, offering a balanced diet, and maintaining their health, you can create a happy and healthy environment for your hermit crabs.

Whether you’re a novice or experienced hermit crab enthusiast, the key to successful hermit crab care is patience, observation, and respect for their natural tendencies.

Enjoy your journey of discovering the wonders of these captivating creatures as you provide them with the love and care they deserve.

Questions People Also Ask: (FAQs)



Do hermit crabs make good pets for children?

Hermit crabs can be suitable pets for older children with proper adult supervision. They require responsible care and handling, so it’s essential to ensure that children are mature enough to meet their needs.


How do I know if my hermit crab is molting?

Look for signs of reduced activity, changes in appetite, and digging behavior. If your hermit crab is hiding and showing these signs, it may be preparing to molt.


Can hermit crabs be housed together?

Hermit crabs are social creatures and can be housed together, but it’s essential to provide adequate space and multiple shells to prevent conflicts over shell choices.


How often should I change the substrate in the enclosure?

You should perform a deep clean of the enclosure and replace the substrate every few months to prevent mold and bacteria growth.


Can hermit crabs live in freshwater or saltwater tanks?

Hermit crabs need access to both freshwater and saltwater pools to maintain the proper salinity of their exoskeleton and stay hydrated.

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