Welcome To Your Hermit Crab Starter Kit Experience
Congratulations on your new pet, the entertaining hermit crabs! They are active and interesting pets that are relatively low maintenance. Hermit crabs can live for a year or more in the starter habitat but as they grow bigger they will eventually need a bigger habitat.
Your Hermit Crab Starter Kit Consists Of
- 2-gallon habitat
- 2 purple pincher hermit crabs
- 2 extra shells
- Hermit Crab Food
- Water treatment solution
- Water mister
- Bag of coconut fiber
- Exercise cholla wood log
- Plastic palm tree
- Plastic plant
- Water clamshell with sponge
- Feeder clamshell
You Will Need To Provide
- Small bowl to give the crabs a bath
- Container to store treated water; 2-liter soda bottle works well
Hermit Crabs are not actually hermits. They are very social creatures and like to have company. The hermit crab’s shell is not actually part of its body – it is a borrowed snail shell that it uses to hide its soft tail in and store water.
Your hermit crabs will arrive after a long trip and may be dehydrated. You should give your hermit crabs a bath as soon as they arrive and every 3 to 7 days after that for around an hour. Hermit crabs love to have a bath:
- Fill the container you will be using to store treated water with warm (not hot) tap water.
- Read the instructions on the water treatment solution to make sure you use the correct amount of water treatment solution.
- Add the water treatment solution into the water and stir. This step is very important because water can contain chemicals that are dangerous to hermit crabs.
- Allow the treated water to sit for at least 2 hours so that it cools down to room temperature.
- Fill a small bowl with ¼ inches of treated room temperature water.
- Place your crabs in the bowl. Make sure that the water is not higher than ¼th of the way up a crab’s shell.
- After a few minutes, the crabs will usually start to be very active and play in the water. They use this time to replace the water they store in their shell with fresh water and remove any waste they have been storing.
Important Note: Adult supervision is required when handling the crabs because they can inflict a painful pinch if they feel threatened. Only handle them over soft surfaces or close to the ground in case they fall. With the passage of time, your hermit crabs will learn to trust you and will crawl on you without a defensive pinch. You can pick up a crab firmly by the back of its shell, keeping fingers away from claws, to avoid a pinch. If you are pinched, put your hand under warm running water in the sink and wait for your crabbie to let go. Most of the time hermit crabs tend to let go fairly quickly.
Setting Up The Habitat
Hermit crabs live along the shores of tropical areas and so they appreciate a moist environment. The coconut fiber is a great substrate because it holds some moisture to keep the habitat slightly humid. Open your bag of coconut fiber and spread it evenly over the bottom of the habitat.
Place the palm tree, plastic plant, wood log and extra shells into the habitat. Crabs like to rearrange their habitat so don’t be surprised if they move everything around. Now you can introduce your purple pinchers into the crabitat.
Important Note: Place the habitat somewhere warm – your pet crabs will appreciate a temperature of 70°F or warmer. But keep them out of direct sunlight otherwise they can easily overheat.
Feeding Your Hermit Crabs
Hermit crabs eat a wide variety of food items and it can be fun to experiment to see what your pet crabs like. Hermit Crab Food has been included in the kit. You can try feeding them fruits and vegetables, tuna fish, peanut butter, crackers or potato chips. Grapes, raisins and popcorn are crab favorites. Use the feeder clamshell as the food dish. Hermit crabs eat in very little amounts so offer only a tiny portion. Excess food will simply go to waste. Crabs sometimes only eat at night so you may never see them eating. When you run out of Hermit Crab Food, you can buy some commercial hermit crab diets from the local pet store.
Important Note: All creatures including hermit crabs need a clean environment. Replace any excess food that may spoil each day. The crabitat should be kept clean at all times.
Caring For Your Hermit Crabs
Crabs like high humidity. Use the water mister to give your crabs a misting every day with the treated water. This increases the humidity in the habitat. They enjoy the misting and it will frequently make them very active right afterward.
Water is of ultimate importance to a hermit crab. Hermit crabs have modified gills and not lungs. They breathe by taking oxygen from the water or highly humid environment. They store water inside their shell. Soak the sponge that has been provided with treated water and set it in the larger, water clamshell with a bit of water in the bottom of the clamshell. Be sure to keep water in the habitat at all times because the water and humidity is very important for the well-being of your crabs. More water conditioner is available at pet stores; you can use any water conditioner used to prepare water for fish.
Crabs love to climb – the choya wood log is a great exercise tool for them. Exercise is important to make sure they stay healthy. You can also add some rocks inside the habitat. But be careful to place them so that the rocks cannot fall on your hermit crabs if they try to climb on them.
Important Note: All creatures including hermit crabs need a clean environment. Make sure to clean the feeder and water clamshells at least once every week. Sift through the bark and remove any solid waste.
Molting And Partying At Night
Hermit crabs grow by molting and need to move into a larger shell after the process of molting is over. When a hermit crab molts it will regenerate any lost limbs. Sometimes it takes a few molts, but eventually, all the limbs regrow.
When your crabs are ready to molt they will bury themselves in the coconut fiber for 2 to 6 weeks. When they re-emerge, they will shed their old exoskeleton and move into a larger shell.
Crabs are most active at night – this is called being nocturnal. Some might even say that they like to party during the night time. They can be quite noisy and you may want to consider keeping the habitat out of your bedroom unless you are a sound sleeper.
Important Note: It is important to have slightly larger shells available in the habitat at all times for your hermit crabs to occupy after molting. Sometimes they just want a change and may try out the empty shells in the habitat.