Land hermit crabs are terrestrial crabs that do not have a physical shell of their own. Their abdomen is very soft and unlike most other crab species. Hermit crabs get their name because they actually borrow discarded shells from other sea crustaceans and carry shells on their backs. When they out grow their existing shell, they simply scout around for a better one and move in. Fights occasionally break out among these crabs as they outgrow their shells, two crabs might find a new shell at the same time, or worse, sometimes one crab will try and take the shell from another!
Like other crabs, they are decapod (have ten legs) crustaceans. They are not actually hermits by nature, because they live in large colonies. As a
hermit crab defends it self, it retreats into its shell using it's harder arms and claw as a barrier. They also leave their left claw exposed to do battle. In addition to defense, this claw is used for climbing, while a smaller, right claw is used for eating and drinking.
Land hermit crabs start their life cycles in the ocean, but spend their adult lives on land. Females carry the eggs, attached to their abdomens, for a short period, then release them at the shoreline, where the tides carry them out to sea. The larvae remain in the sea for four to six months, eating small floating plants and animals.
As juveniles, the crabs continue to molt and find larger shells as they grow.
They also become increasingly tolerant of extended periods of exposure to the air until, as adults, they live entirely on land. with this in mind, hermit crabs will not reproduce in captivity.
In their natural environment, hermit crabs hide during the heat of the day, so
you should construct hiding places for them. They normally need heating and require high humidity. You can tell when hermit crabs are not happy or in ideal conditions as they will become inactive. But keep in mind they are only active at night!
Well maintained hermit crabs can live for many years. It's reported that they can live over 20 years old in their natural environment, however, their life span seems to be greatly diminished in captivity.
Large crabs usually shed their exoskeleton once a year, between May and September, a process that takes about two weeks. Because they are particularly vulnerable at this time, these crabs need space to get away from others housed with them. The crabs will also regenerate missing legs or claws during moulting.
Hermit crabs make fascinating pets and can be fun for all ages. They seem to be ideal for children and help them to learn how to take care of a living animal. They are tactile and you can interact with them.
If you are about to get a hermit crab, you need to make sure you have the basic requirements, before you even bring them home! Here is a list of the basic requirements for any hermit crabs.
- Aquarium / Terrarium
- Lighting (or natural light)
- Substrait (gravel, sand etc.)
- Fresh Water
- Salt Water
- Heater (light, ceramic or other)
- Ceramic feeding dish
- Plastic plants
- Aquarium backing
- Spare shells
Suitable For People Aged: 7 & over
Experience Required: None/Care Sheet
Feeding Care Time Required: 10 minutes a day
Maintenance Time Required: 1/2 Hour a Week
Minimum Space Required: Aquarium
Cost of Upkeep: (approx) $4 Per Week
Life Span: (approx) up to 20 years
Availability: Spring & Summer
To read our care sheet, simply click the link above to open it in your browser. However, if you want to download it to your computer for future reference, simply 'right click' on the document and select "Save Target As...". Then simply choose a location (like your desktop) to save. You will need Acrobat to read and print these documents.