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Hermit crabs are the superfamily of crabs that belong to the Coenobitidae and Paguroidea families.
There are 800 species of hermit crabs with numerous genera. They are crustaceans who are related to lobsters, crabs, and prawns.
Hermit crabs are usually seen in a reddish-orange color, and they are found in temperate areas of the Northern Hemisphere and in tropical or subtropical regions. The most interesting fact to know is that they do not produce their own shells like snails. They mostly use left-out old shells of other animals like snail shells. A shell-less hermit crab can easily be preyed upon by its predators and it also needs to protect its exoskeleton. These crabs also use hollow objects to protect their soft bodies. They usually weigh between 7-17.6 oz (200-500 g).
A hermit crab is an ideal option to choose as a pet as it is very easy to look after this crab. They are very social creatures. These crabs usually live for only 10 years but with the right care, they can live up to 15 years. They are gentle animals and are not aggressive. Hermit crabs do not carry diseases from humans, they are disease-free. These hypo-allergenic crabs are safe pets for children with allergies. They are nocturnal, which means they feed and are active at night but will sleep throughout the day. Land hermit crabs belong to the genus of Coenobita.
Coenobita clypeatus is the Caribbean hermit crab that has a life of up to 30-40 years. These crabs hide under large trees, have gills to breathe in their shells, and help to maintain the humidity needed for gas exchange purposes. These soldier crabs can grow very large in size, up to 6 in (15.2 cm) in diameter. They seem to look larger than a baseball.
If you have enjoyed this article, why not also read about how do hermit crabs mate and how big do hermit crabs get here on Kidadl?
Hermit crabs live on land and not in water. You can make a perfect habitat for them in tanks. Here you will understand how to pick the right tank for your hermit crab pets.
Hermit crabs need a spacious environment to live in. A baby hermit crab needs at least a 10 gal (37.8 l) plastic tank. You should always cover the top with a screen top in order to prevent your hermit crab escaping. The perfect tank size for these crabs, to begin with, is 10 gal (37.8 L) and 20 in (50.8 cm) long, 10-12 in (25.4-30.5 cm) width and height. If you prefer to keep bigger and adult hermit crabs then a 20 gal (75.7 l) tank is required. You can keep two small hermit crabs in a 10 gal (37.8 l) terrarium. A 7 gal (26.5 l) tank can hold a larger one. If your crab is too large you can go for a 15 gal (56.8 l) tank. You can never put three of your hermit crabs in a 10 gal (37.8 l) tank.
These crabs always prefer moist habitats, so try to avoid placing your tank in direct sunlight or in places of extreme temperatures.
Hermit crabs live in tropical environments. In order to set up a habitat for a hermit crab, first, you should choose a terrarium that is spacious enough for it to live without suffocating.
Try not to put just one hermit crab in a tank. Despite the crab's name suggesting it is not social, it will affect its health if kept alone. You can keep two or more hermit crabs together. There are mainly three necessities for furnishing the cage including things to climb, a food dish, and two water bowls. These crabs love to climb, so you can arrange some wood pieces for them to climb on. You can get the ideal wood for climbing from the reptile section of a pet store. You can add additional artificial plants and accessories to the tank.
They should also be provided with two bowls of shallow water, one with freshwater and the other dish with saltwater. The dish must not be that deep because drowning is a risk. The water given should be non-chlorinated and the saltwater should be prepared using marine aquarium salt. Food can be provided in fattened heavy plastic dishes which can look like rocks. These crabs require calcium for the proper formation of their exoskeletons. A convenient calcium supplement powder can promote the healthy molting of your crab.
Providing the best habitats can make your hermit crab pet active and happy. Crabs are not starter pets. They are complex and sensitive animals who live mainly in the wild and not in caged tanks.
You can give them a better experience in terrariums by providing the best environment. Hermit crabs need companionship. They hate loneliness, it can also make them weak. This animal also needs plenty of climbing room. They also need substrates like sand or coconut fiber bedding to bury themselves in for molting. You have to provide adequate humidity, a warm temperature, spare shells, freshwater, and saltwater. Additional artificial plants can give them a sense of living in the wild. Newer hermit crabs spend a lot of time hiding under the substrate.
There are 500-600 species of hermit crabs, most of which are likely to be seen living in shorelines and in tropical climates like the Caribbean, South America, Africa, and Australia.
They live in areas where they have access to both land and water. In the wild, they mainly eat bits of dead animals, macroalgae, and microscopic mussels. They also eat vegetables like carrots, spinach, and lettuce. Hermit crabs are omnivorous and hermit crabs reproduce sexually. This animal mates in saline water. After successful mating, female hermit crabs lay their eggs in the sea. Females toss their eggs into the ocean once they are ready to hatch. Marine hermit crabs live under the sea. Reproduction is only possible with access to water, so they live in places that have access to both land and water. They are scavengers, so they eat decomposed sea life and bacteria. They recycle the energy back into the ecosystem.
Land hermit crabs usually live in tropical climates and therefore they need appropriate warm temperatures and humidity to survive.
You can choose either a glass or plastic tank for your hermit crab pet to feel at home. Choose an aquarium with enough space. After this, you have to select a substrate for your tank because it has a key role in molting. Sand is the best substrate to use as hermit crabs love to burrow down into it. You need to wash the sand, then dry it, and have to bake it to sterilize it. You can use inexpensive playground sand, aquarium sand, or even expensive calcium-based sands which are available in varied colors. Coconut fiber-based bedding, called forest bedding, is also a better choice for the substrate. You need to provide them with a temperature of 72-80 F (22.2-26.7 C). These crabs become weak and ill if the temperature drops below 72 F (22.2 C). Try to fix an under-tank heater of lights to make them warm. You can check the temperature of the substance with a good thermometer. If the heater does not provide enough temperature then take out some substrate from the tank.
Humidity is vitally important for hermit crabs (especially land hermit crabs) because crabs breathe through gills. Humidity in the air can give a proper exchange of oxygen. As long as the tank is enclosed with a lid, the water dish provided in the tank can give adequate humidity. You have to go for two water bowls as hermit crabs need both freshwater and saltwater. The bowl should be adequately deep so that these crabs can get into them if they wish to soak.
The hermit crab tank should be cleaned thoroughly once a week and deep cleaning is necessary once every three to six months. These crabs need to live in a clean and tidy place.
Wipe all the sides with hot water and use a disinfectant or biodegradable cleanser. Then rinse it with water and try to remove the smell of these disinfectants from the tank. Allow the tank to dry before returning your crabs to their home. All the accessories in the tank should also be cleaned by boiling them. Scooping the substrate should be done in order to remove any feces and rotten food. You can change the hermit crab's water every two to three days. If you fail to do this basic cleaning, it can affect the health of your crab. It can even kill them.
Humidity is very important for hermit crabs. They breathe through gills, and the proper exchange of oxygen needs humidity.
Analyze the humidity reading in the room where you keep the hermit crab aquarium. Raise the humidity of the room itself. Place bowls of shallow water and add houseplants which can also add to the beauty of your home. These crabs tend to suffocate if the air level in the tank decreases. They need a humidity level of around 70-80%. Check the humidity level in your tank with a hygrometer. Digital hygrometers have alarms that you can set to ring if the level falls below 70%.
Excess humidity can also create problems. It can lead to condensation and excess growth of bacteria and fungi in the tank. The water bowls in the tank are sufficient for proper humidity. You can add sea sponges to a dish of non-chlorinated water. These sponges can hold lots of water and there is a larger surface for evaporation, this can ultimately fasten humidity production. Enclose the tank with a solid lid because a lid can provide air circulation and can also trap moisture.
Hermit crabs like to live in a large groups, so they should be kept in teams and not alone. They won't be active alone.
Hermit crabs need humidity to survive and they need a level between 70-80% for easy respiration. Spray non-chlorinated water and keep track of the level with a hydrometer. In order to maintain a balanced diet, crush the pelleted food before giving them. Land hermit crabs eat fruits and vegetables which are good for their diet. The Smithsonian's National Zoo fed crab food, vegetables, and fruits to their land hermit crab. They are slow eaters and take only small bites of food, but try to remove any uneaten food the next morning.
Hermit crabs need fresh, clean, non-chlorinated water and you should also provide them with a dish of water mixed with marine salt. Tap water which contains chlorine is harmful to crabs. You cannot use table salt for salinity but go for sea salt which is sold for fish and crustaceans. Some crabs might tend to fight with others for food or space. They also steal shells. You can put some spare shells in the terrarium.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked learning about a hermit crab habitat then why not take a look at how long do hermit crabs live or hermit crab facts?
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