Hermit Crab Care
By Jayashree Pakhare [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
Hermit Crabs are the unique, extraordinary pets. Hermit crab care mainly revolves around creating and maintaining proper tropical climate which is their habitat…
Hermit crabs are one of the most extraordinary pets because of their ability to make attention-grabbing, easy care friends. They have very distinctive characteristics; have vigorous and inquisitive nature, and their unique personality with low maintenance charges make them appealing to us as good pets as long as we provide them proper environment and food.
In fact, biologically, they do not show the typical characteristics of "true crabs." They are characterized by a soft abdomen which is protected by shell of an empty snail, where they do live unlike true crabs. So, as they grow, owners of such pets must offer increasingly larger sized shells, corresponding to their growth.
Basically, Hermit Crabs are omnivores, which mean they feed on both vegetation and animal material. There are two types of Hermit Crabs found, marine and land hermit crabs. Usually, Land Hermit Crabs are considered as good pets.Choosing the Pet
Coenobita clypeatus and Coenobita compressus are the two main species found in United States, while Coenobita perlatus and Coenobita variabilis are the other two found in other parts of world besides the previous two. Although, Land Hermit Crabs are relatively easier to find, you have to be careful while choosing your pet.
Hermit Crab displays three pairs of legs and you have to make sure that all pairs are present. You should also check the shell, whether it is intact or not. The potential pet should not be dull as it is the indication of its unhealthy status. It should be free of parasites. If you are adding one into your previously maintained stock then take care that the new arrival is having the matching size.Housing Hermit Crabs
The habitat of Land Hermit Crabs is warm tropical climate; hence they require a warm, humid environment in the tank to survive. They do not require huge homes but maintenance of suitable temperature and humidity is absolutely important for their survival.The Tank
- hermit crabs can be housed in tanks made up of Glass or plastic. Although, the tanks are available in numerous sizes, normally, an aquarium having capacity of 10 gallon with a sliding glass as lid is a preferred choice. Don’t go for bigger ones but the plastic tanks come as a part of hermit crab kits are too small either. A 10 gallon tank offers the needed room for plastic cage furnishings and sufficient space for the movement of the pet. Hermit Crabs are very social in nature and are best kept in groups.Substrate
- Although there are a couple of other options, Sand is the usual substrate for hermit crabs. As their natural behavior is burrowing down, Sand provides a good means for these natural activities. Aquarium sand or playground sand is a better, easily available and inexpensive option. It is better to sterilize it by rinsing, drying, or baking the sand, and it can be re-washed and used again. You can also move around some pet shops to find calcium based sands which come in a variety of colors, but are quite expensive.
Fiber bedding made for reptiles can be another good option for substrate. Bedding made up of coconut fiber called Forest Bedding is used. The fiber is grounded fine to have the feel of soil; hence it is good for burrowing. Crushed coral also makes a fine choice, but then you should provide an area with Forest Bedding or sand as this is more preferable substrate for your hermit during molting. Avoid the use of wood shavings or gravel bed.Heat
- As mentioned earlier, Hermit crabs are habitual of hot tropical climate, they enjoy at 72 to 80 F (22-27 C). Hence, the use of heaters to keep crabs at optimal temperature becomes the necessity. Undertank heaters, lights, or a combination of both can be effectively used to maintain the required temperature. Undertank heaters (UTH) should be used with thermostat to exercise the better temperature control.Humidity
- humidity in the tank is a very vital aspect for hermit crabs. Since their respiration is via gills, they require proper amount of oxygen which depends on the humidity factor in the air. A humidity of around 70-80% is important to the crabs. So, it is better to install hygrometer in the tank. Excess humidity is also not advisable either as it stimulates the growth of bacteria and fungus in the tank.
The water dish you introduce in the tank is sufficient for maintaining e proper humidity, as long as the tank is enclosed. Introduction of natural sea sponge also helps the cause of increasing humidity.Cage Furnishings
- They satisfy three basic requirements like stuff to climb on, food dish and a water bowl. Cholla wood is an ideal choice and can give your pets their much beloved activity the climbing. Drift wood or coral pieces can also make a good option. Artificial plants sound great addition. Try to change them periodically to bring variety in the tank.Feeding
Their feeding behavior is highly fascinating retreat for eyes. In the wild, land hermit crabs eat almost anything like fallen fruit, leaf litter, decaying wood, plants and grasses. Although they are not specific in their diet, recent studies have shown that hermit crabs need calcium, carotene and antioxidants. You can witness the fading in their color at the time of molting if their diet is carotene deficient. You can supplement their diet with brightly-colored vegetables, like corn and carrots to make up the deficiency of carotene.
You can feed them meat, fish, vegetables and fruit as they are omnivorous in nature. They also like tannin-rich foods like tree bark and oak leaves. While giving these types of food you have to wash and then dry them. If you can offer your pet with a diverse diet of "human grade" food, then commercial crab food is not at all necessary. You can pick up these foods by having a stroll at your nearby grocery store!Molting
Molting is the process during which your pet sheds of the previous skin. During molting, hermit crabs are under a lot of stress, and hence extra care is required. Usually an isolation tank is the best solution. You can shift the particular crab in altogether different tank or in the temporary cage made in the parent tank, though latter is always a better option. Avoid extra handling as these will only add the stress. Leaving them alone is always best way to take care!