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Hermit Crabs as Pets

Dr. Michelle Ferrera

 Hermit Crabs are entertaining and unusual pets. I currently own four that I have had for several years. I often find them climbing about, exploring their food bowl, or making a new burrow in the sand. I have even taken them to my childrens’ classrooms when giving an educational presentation.

My crabs live in a 29 gallon fish tank that has several inches of sand for burrowing and a variety of caves and logs for climbing and hiding. The tank contains a dish for fresh water, a dish for salt water, and a dish for the variety of food items they consume. Green Turbo shells are their favorite shell to choose from for when they molt and grow, and need a change of size. I keep a variety in the tank. A secure lid, day and night lighting, and a thermometer/hygrometer complete the crabs’ set up.

I don’t use a wire cage, as they need to burrow in sand in order to remain healthy. I also don’t routinely bathe them as they have plenty of fresh and salt water access, and I prefer to avoid the stress. I also don’t keep sponges in their water dishes as they are difficult to keep clean, although the crabs do like carrying them off to a remote corner of their tank.

All of the crabs supplies were readily found at a local pet supply store. I found the book, Hermit Crabs for Dummies by Kelli A. Wilkins to be a helpful resource. There are many websites created by people devoted to keeping hermit crabs, and it is also a good way to locate hard to find shells, or investigate novel food items sold by specialty stores.

Hermit crabs are not short lived, disposable pets. They can be lively and provide years of entertainment if they have the proper environment.