Hermit Crabs as Pets
By Abhijit Naik [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
The latest addition to the list of exotic pets are Hermit crabs. The article stresses on various measures you need to take when maintaining Hermit crabs as pets.
Hermit crabs are small soft-bodied marine crustaceans found in the tropical areas. They are typically characterized by the habit of carrying empty sea shells on their back. These shells are used for defensive purpose, as the crabs retract into it on the slightest sign of danger. Though, they are referred to as the Hermit crabs, these species are not related to true crabs in any way. Initially considered to be throwaway pets, owing to their short life-span, Hermit crabs as pets have gained wide popularity, as some of its species with longer life span have been identified.
Hermit Crabs as Pets: Popular Species
Among the 500 listed species of Hermit crabs, approximately only 15 species are terrestrial, while the rests are aquatic. Most of the species of Hermit crabs popular as pets are terrestrial in nature. These include prominent species such as the Caribbean hermit crab, Australian land hermit crab and the Ecuadorian hermit crab. Other than these species, a few more species are becoming popular due to their longer life span and availability in abundance.
Hermit Crabs as Pets: Life Span
Hermit crabs have been popular as pets since a long time, however. The average life span of the species kept as pets initially, seldom exceeded a few months. More recently, it has been observed that some species of Hermit crabs tend to live for relatively longer period, if proper care is provided. In fact, species like the Caribbean hermit crab have an average life span of 23 years, with some individuals even living for 30 years or more, though such examples are rare.Hermit Crab Habitat
A fish tank, which can retain humidity, can make a good Hermit crab habitat. These crabs require an optimal temperature of around 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit, and a relative humidity of approximately, 80 percent. As these creatures breathe through gills, humidity is an important aspect of the Hermit crab habitat. Low temperature can hamper the metabolism of your Hermit crab, while low humidity can cause the crabs to die of suffocation. Beach sand is an ideal choice as a substrate for Hermit crab habitat. The layer of the substrate should be at least three times the size of the crab, so that they can easily dig and burrow into it for shelter. One of the most important aspects of caring for hermit crabs as pets is keeping their surroundings clean. The substrate should be cleaned once in a while. When keeping hermit crabs as pets, don't forget to keep extra sea shells in the fish tank.How to Care for Hermit Crabs as Pets?
Before buying a pet Hermit crab, make sure that you check it once. Ensure that it has its three pairs of legs, the shell covering is not damaged and no pest is thriving on it. A look at its movements will give you a rough idea, whether it's healthy or not. If you are buying two crabs, or if you are buying a Hermit crab to give your existing pet crab a companion, make sure that there is no difference between the size of two individuals. Even though Hermit crabs are social animals, keeping a large and a small crab together is bound to end up in fight, as larger Hermit crabs are known to bully their smaller counterparts. These crabs are very active in nature, and hence, you will have to play with them once in a while. While playing, however, make sure that you are careful with the handling part. What Do Hermit Crabs Eat?
Hermit crabs found in wild are omnivorous in nature, but the ones you keep as pets will require a special diet to furnish the nutrition requirements of their body. You can feed them krill, bloodworms, silversides and shrimps. At the same time, you may also, have to provide them with enough water in their habitat itself. Read more on, What do Hermit crabs eat?
Hermit crabs do make good pets, especially due to the fact that the maintenance involved is very less. However, keeping hermit crabs as pets for kids may not turn out to be such a pleasant idea. At times these crabs burrow under the sand for days altogether. It is an essential part of their life, as they need to keep up with their growing bodies. However, you child may not understand it. More importantly, these crabs are also known to deliver sharp bites, which can be harmful for kids.