Unique Apartment Pets: Hermit Crabs

Share:

Unique Apartment Pets: Hermit Crabs

Staff Writer · Nov 19, 2009

Hermit crabs can make long-living apartment pets that crustacean lovers and fans of unique pets alike will love to care for and observe. Not true crabs, these creatures must move from one shell to another as they grow bigger, so it’s important that the hermit crab owner familiarize him or herself with proper hermit crab care.

Hermit Crab Supplies

Proper hermit crab care involves purchase of the following hermit crab supplies:

  • 10-gallon aquarium (see “Hermit Crab Aquariums”)
  • Food (see “Feeding Your Hermit Crabs”)
  • Salt water making kit
  • Sand (see “Hermit Crab Aquariums”)
  • Undertank heater
  • Wood for climbing

Hermit Crab Aquariums

Hermit crabs need a warm, humid environment, so owners should try to recreate such an environment in the aquarium. Hermit crab owners should make their apartment pets a home in a 10-gallon glass or plastic aquarium tank with a mesh lid or a sliding glass lid. Install an undertank heater in order to keep the tank at a temperature of around 73 to 80 degrees. Fill the bottom of the aquarium with 3 to 4 inches of playground sand, aquarium sand or calcium-based sand. Hermit crabs will burrow in this sand to keep warm.

Feeding Your Hermit Crabs

Hermit crabs are omnivores that scavenge mostly for fallen plant life and animal waste in the wild. As apartment pets, hermit crabs should eat a mixture of commercial pellets or canned food and crushed-up fruit, plant life and other food. Do not feed your crabs sugary junk food or foods high in starch (such as potatoes). Nutritional foods for proper hermit crab care include:

  • Carrots
  • Apples
  • Mango
  • Bananas
  • Grapes
  • Romaine lettuce (not iceburg)
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Watercress
  • Seaweed
  • Sodium-free crackers
  • Tree bark and leaves (no conifer trees)

Because hermit crabs also need a diet high in calcium (especially during molting) to support their exoskeleton, supplement their diet with foods such as:

  • Crushed boiled egg shells
  • Cuttlebones
  • Crushed oyster shells

Hermit crabs also need both fresh dechlorinated water and salt water available in their aquariums at all times in shallow dishes that are easy for the crabs to climb in and out of. They drink both kinds and bathe in salt water. Prepare salt water with commercial salt water salt (not table salt).

Hermit Crab Behavior

Hermit crabs occasionally molt around every 18 months or so, which means they shed their exoskeleton and prepare to grow a new one. When hermit crabs begin digging, eating and drinking more than usual, they may be molting. They may also become more lethargic and appear to have cloudy eyes. Owners should not assume their crabs are dead if they stop moving. They should leave them be and see if they shed their skin.

Hermit crabs also need to be provided with progressively bigger shells in which to live as they grow bigger. Select a variety of sized shells appropriate for hermit crabs and provide them for your apartment pets in their tanks one after the other.

Although some people wrongly assume that hermit crabs are “throwaway” apartment pets that don’t live very long, properly caring for your hermit crab will likely result in lifespan of between 10 to 20 years. Although not as fluffy as the traditional pet, observing hermit crab behavior can provide a lot of entertainment to hermit crab owners.

You might also like:

On ApartmentRatings, real renters have the ability to rate and review their apartment communities based on their experience touring and or living in the communities. ApartmentRatings offers renters the ability to see what life is like at a community through a report card grade style format called epIQ. Every month we highlight apartment communities whose […]

Jessica Lee

 · Apr 3, 2024

Moving into a new apartment or rental property can be both exciting and stressful. From packing up your belongings to coordinating logistics, there’s a lot to manage. However, one aspect that is often overlooked is what to expect on move-in day regarding the condition of your new unit. Surprisingly, according to recent surveys, a significant […]

Jessica Lee

 · Mar 12, 2024

On ApartmentRatings, real renters have the ability to rate and review their apartment communities based on their experience touring and or living in the communities. ApartmentRatings offers renters the ability to see what life is like at a community through a report card grade style format called epIQ. Every month we highlight apartment communities whose […]

Jessica Lee

 · Feb 28, 2024