Land hermit crabs are complex animals with very specific habitat needs in order to thrive in captivity and achieve their full life span, which is decades.
The care information provided at pet stores, beach shops and other retail outlets is inaccurate and insufficient and will lead to your pet hermit crab dying an unnaturally early death.
Outlined below are the minimum requirements for keeping a pet hermit crab based on biological functions and needs. These basic needs are expanded upon in The Crab Street Journal’s Hermit Crab Care 101 guide.
- A constant Relative Humidity no lower than 70%
- Temperature in the habitat should be a minimum 75F/23.89C on the cool end. The maximum temperature on the warm end can vary by species, generally speaking 85F/29.44C is safe.
- A glass tank of at least 10 gallons. This can safely house two SMALL hermit crabs.
- A secure, solid lid for the tank.
- Appropriate substrate at the appropriate depth. Play sand mixed with shredded coco pith in a 5:1 ratio for most species.
- A heat pad, mounted on the back wall of the habitat.
- A non-heat emitting light that provides 12 hours of light and 12 hours of dark.
- Fresh water and marine salt water deep enough to submerge.
- Water conditioner to remove chlorine, chloramines, and ammonia.
- Marine Salt Mix
- A quality thermometer and hygrometer
- .A nutritionally complete diet composed of quality food free of ethoxyquin and copper sulfate.
- Spare shells of the appropriate size and species for growth
Looking for some more in depth hermit crab care information? The Crab Street Journal is the official hermit crab care library of the Land Hermit Crab Owners Society.
The Land Hermit Crab Owners Society also recommends Crab Central Station. Darcy and Brooke are LHOCS Local Reps and are part of the Hermit House breeding project.
Wilde, E, (1973). On the Ecology of Coenobita Clypeatus in Curaçao: With reference to reproduction, water economy and osmoregulation in terrestrial hermit crabs https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-017-6768-2
Hazlett, B. (2003). The Behavioral Ecology of Hermit Crabs. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics. 12. 1-22. 10.1146/annurev.es.12.110181.000245.
Respiration and Adaptation to the Terrestrial Habitat in the Land Hermit Crab Coenobita clypeatus by Brian R. McMahon and Warren W. Burggren
Biology of the Land Crabs by Warren W. Burggren and Brian McMahon
Acute and Chronic Toxicity of Copper to Four Species of Daphnia – Robert W. Winner and Michael P. Farrell
The effects of Copper and Zinc on survival, growth and reproduction of the cladoceran Daphnia longispina: introducing new data in an “old” issue – Celso Martins, Fátima T Jesus, António J A Nogueira
Chronic toxicity of dietary copper to Daphnia magna – K.A.C.De Schamphelaerea, I. Forreza, K. Dierckens, P. Sorgeloos, C.R.Janssena
Ethoxyquin: a feed additive that poses a risk for aquatic life – Sophia Egloff, Constanze Pietsch
PPDB: Pesticide Properties DataBase Ethoxyquin – http://sitem.herts.ac.uk/aeru/ppdb/en/Reports/280.htm
Dall, W. and Moriarty, D. J. W. (1983). Functional aspects of nutrition and digestion. In: Mantel, L H (Ed.) The Biology of Crustacea. Vol. 5. Internal Anatomy and Physiological Regulation. Academic Press, New York, 215-61 bibliography pp. 251-61
Childress, J.R. (1972), Behavioral Ecology and Fitness Theory in a Tropical Hermit Crab. Ecology, 53: 960-964. https://doi.org/10.2307/1934316
Abrams, P. Shell selection and utilization in a terrestrial hermit crab, Coenobita compressus (H. Milne Edwards). Oecologia 34, 239–253 (1978). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00345169