Hermit Crab Care

I recently purchased some hermit crabs from Petsmart. I did it for my daughter who wants to be a vet, I am trying to teach her all about animal care. We really have enjoyed them, they are such complex little creatures.


I look in the crabitat every morning, and clean out the cage which they have made a mess out of the night before. I like to make sure they are OK. I hold them once a day, but more at night when they are awake. I let them crawl on the bed or in another box to have fun climbing on things. I pick them up by their shell, and put them down where they feel secure.

If they don't come out, I lay them on my stretched out palm, over a soft bed until they come out. They only pinch out of alarm, if they have been abused they will pinch out of fear. The jumbo crabs can snap a pencil in two. Never pick up a crab from the front or it will stick its defense claw out and pinch you.

Crabs have personalities; some are outgoing, some are rather quiet, come come out wanting to see the world, some just stay shut in their shell. Most of the stay in the shell ones are just used to the traumatic pet store. When you first get it, leave it alone as far as handling goes so it gets a sense of being comfortable and not poked at like it probably was at the pet store.


They are very social animals and they need at least one or more friends to be happy. I will probably get at least three or more to go with my other two as I am not sure the two species of them get along.

Here are basic supplies that a crab needs to be happy:

  • They are in need of two kinds of water dishes; salt water from special salt you buy for crabs, and de-chlorinated water.

  • Never keep them in a small pet carrier they need room to walk around and climb and have fun.

  • Large sweater box, I like this better than glass, it is easier to carry around.

  • Two shallow dishes, not metal for the crabs.

  • Hermit crab salt to mix the salt bath with. Not table salt it will kill them. I like instant ocean.

  • There are also little bottles of salt you can buy for crabs.

  • De-chlorinated water for the regular water dish.

  • Hermit crab pellets should never be their only food, they like to have different food all the time, it is best to crush the pellets or soak them in water.

  • Humidity Gauge Crabitat should be at 70%.

  • Coconut bark or sand regular play sand is the white kind is best from Home Depot or Lowes.

  • Mister with de-chlorinated water in it for daily misting.

  • I also keep a wet rag on the coconut bark to help with the humidity.

  • Extra shells that have been boiled and rinsed off.

  • Cuttlebone pieces in the cage so they can get calcium.

Handling Hermit Crabs:

  • Never hold a crab in your pocket. They become alarmed and they pinch out of fear.

  • Never try to blow at a crab, it alarms them

  • Never hold a crab over a hard surface

  • Never just get one crab, they are very social animals

  • I love to hold my crabs and look at them everyday, I even have an extra sweater box with just a piece of material in it to let them exercise in a different place.

  • Crabs eat at night and they are nocturnal. They bury themselves during the day.

  • If the crab is molting separate it into another cage with a lot of sand that is semi moist. The other crabs find the smell of newly molted crab irresistible.

  • Talk to crabs and give them a little dip in a saltwater solution, make sure the water you use in the saltwater solution is dechlorinated too.

Take pictures of your crabitat and share them on this site, I would love to see them!

Here is a great site to go to in order to learn how to meet their needs:

Source: hermit and personal experience

By Robyn Fed from Hampton, TN

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September 20, 20110 found this helpful

Great info. It is very well explained, so that makes it easier to understand.

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November 25, 20190 found this helpful

Really good article, I learned a lot.

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November 25, 20190 found this helpful

As the owner of 2 rescued crabs and care, research for years, I would add two things... please do not buy your crabs in a pet store etc. Look on Craigslist, try your best to find crabs that need to be rehomed. Why? Because no hermit crab is born in captivity. They are caught and taken from their natural habitats, viciously extracted from their natural shells and stuffed into painted, decorative shells. If not painted, please believe that the shell your crab comes to you in, is NOT the shell they were captured in.


These painted, perfect, or decorated shells are TOXIC for the crab and sole purpose is for the consumer.
Many pet stores have no idea how to create a healthy habitat for a crab. Substrate for a crab should be 6 inches deep and sloping.
They should NOT be dumped in with many other crabs. They are territorial and will fight other crabs. Introduce crabs slowly to one another and be vigilant in looking for aggression.
Please remember that these animals are ALL, at one point, living their perfect life in the sands and oceans.

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