Despite hermit crabs being very adorable pets, these tiny packages of cuteness shockingly require high levels of care and maintenance.
The widely popular opinion is that the care for hermit crabs is easy thus great first time pets for kids. Nevertheless, these beliefs are not true. On the contrary, keeping hermit crabs healthy is very hard, and it is advisable to keep them in groups. Moreover, hermit crabs are outgoing partiers who like keeping a crab-party going on all night, thereby entirely not being hermit-like.
The one-gallon fish tanks and clear plastic critter-carriers you sometimes see hermit crabs being displayed are not safe homes for these creatures. The hermit crab is possibly dying a slow and painful death if the critter carrier’s top ventilation has a typical “berry-basket.” Moreover, they breathe through modified gills, have no lungs and also drown in water.
In case the gills dry out, the animal is in grave danger, with its death as a result of suffocation unavoidable although it takes months to happen. Thus, it is vital to maintain high levels of humidity in the place where you house the hermit crab, this bringing up the issue of needed equipment.
This list gives you a basic introduction of the equipment you need to ensure your hermit crabs remain healthy.
- A marine terrarium, an aquarium tank or a large covered enclosure that is sturdy enough to withstand wet sand. Additionally, always ensure the cover is tight thereby preventing the hermit crabs from forcing a way out from the tank.
- Always use safe sea salt usually the kind sold for crustaceans and marine fish.
- Shallow food dishes, sea sponges, a slotted scoop and water dishes to get rid of the uneaten food from the sand.
- A water-conditioning fluid which neutralizes water free from the chlorine and its by-products.
- Safe sand that is a few inches, of at least 15 centimeters, deep in the tank.
- Additional shells of correct shapes and sizes, a minimum of three per crab.
- Rocks and branches to climb on.
- A quarantine tank, which is essentially the complete set-up in miniature for safe molting.
- Hygrometers for the quarantine tank and main tank, plus a thermometer for the sand.
- Hidey-huts which the crabs use for relaxation during the day.
- A heater for one end of the container with a majority of hermit crabs loving temperature range between 24 to 27 degrees on the warm side of the tank.
- To keep the humidity levels above 75 percent, you need a moss and spare sponges for soaking.
Hermit crabs love keeping themselves fit and this assuming they have tanks that are big enough especially since they like to crawl, climb and pull. For those of who would want to “walk” them across your hands, you can do so while holding your hands over a soft surface.
While it is walking across one hand, place your other hand in front, always placing your hands in a side by side position and never fingertip-to-fingertip. If not, this is not done, the hermit crab easily gets terrified since the surface is too narrow.
These beach combing scavengers are omnivores, and thus their diet needs both plant matter and meat. However, the commercial crab foods are not ideal for consumption by hermit crabs since they most often have preservatives, but others can be safe, so you should make a point of reading the ingredient list.
Additionally, the main problem with commercial foods is that they are boring, with crabs disliking the smell of the same meal two times in a row. Therefore, they are happiest when each meal is a little bit different, for instance, some chicken and seaweed today then some fish and touch of apple tomorrow.
Before feeding your crabs, make sure you wash all the vegetables and fruits before feeding your crabs and while doing so, use de-chlorinated water. Make an effort always to safeguard your crabs from chlorine. Meat can either be cooked or raw with freeze-dried also okay so long as it does not have preservatives such as salt.
Nonetheless, not everything needs to be fresh thus having in stock an assortment of jars of baby foods is essential. Have in store some bloodworms, freeze-dried daphnia, tubifex, and shrimps acquired from the pet’s store aquarium section, occasionally offering them some pieces of low-alf catfood.
Hermit crabs require calcium and the best way to ensure this is in their diet is by dropping a couple of cuttlebones onto the tank’s floor. You can purchase cuttlebones from the pet store in the pet-bird section.
Unlike most animals, crabs require two different water bowls, one containing salt water and the other freshwater. Furthermore, the salt water must not be made with table salt since it contains iodine and the dishes must be massive enough so that the crabs can plunge themselves into the water and get out easily thereby not drowning. Having a piece of the sea sponge in each of the bowls makes an appropriate safety raft.
Hermit crab tanks must contain both conditioned freshwater bowl and conditioned saltwater bowl, with the specific details varying depending on the crab species you keep.
These creatures must be availed a variety of appropriate shells along the water which the crabs use for “grooming” themselves. Depending on the species you keep, the shape does vary, but you should at least provide three shells per crab in your tank.
Moreover, the size of the shell should somewhat be smaller, equal to or somewhat larger than the shell the crab has at the moment, always keeping away from painted shells. It is because the “non-toxic” paints are non-toxic to your kids and not safe for your crabs.
Primarily, hermit crabs are nocturnal creatures. They enjoy re-arranging things, exploring their homes and testing how many can sit on a perch before falling over. For those of you who mostly sleep during at night, it is advisable not to keep the crab tank in the bedroom since you will often hear them snapping away with their claws through the wee hours of the night.
Furthermore, always have in mind that hermit crabs are invertebrates thus poisons used in killing spiders and insects can also harm them. Thus, if anyone in your house tends going after spiders with a “bug-spray” can or your neighbors spray their lawns, owning hermit crabs is not ideal for you.
Training Usually, there is no training needed for hermit crabs. However, once in a while you will have to rescue them particularly during molts and offering them suitable shells for them to pick from, from their allowing them to act according to their natures.
Where to Next?
Deciding whether owning these loveable creatures is right for you is tricky since for a beginner to keep them happy and healthy is very hard. You should perhaps consider a pony or dog which are easier to maintain.
Nevertheless, if you have come to the conclusion hermit crabs are ideal for your family, you should then start on some reading. Availed in this care-sheet is just the most straightforward information you should know. Scrutinize every detail of putting together a suitable enclosure, temperature and humidity details along shell replacement details.
Additionally, put together the quarantine and main tank, carefully observing the temperature and humidity levels for a week or two. After all of this is stable, acquire numerous healthy crabs along with a collection of high-quality shells for the crabs.