Despite being one of the more odd pets, hermit crabs are intriguing, low-maintenance friends. They make ideal pets because of their individual personalities, high levels of activity, and curiosity. They also make because of their low care needs.
"True crabs" are not hermit crabs. They live within an empty snail shell to protect their smaller, softer abdomen. They need to locate larger shells as they get bigger, and their owners have to give them bigger shells as they become bigger. They are omnivores in the wild, eating both plant and animal matter. Hermit crabs can be found on land or in the sea, however this article only talks about the land kind.
Coenobita clypeatus and Coenobita compressus are the two primary used as pets in the United States (Ecuadorian Crab or E-Crab). Various species, such the Australian land hermit crab (Coenobita variabilis) and the strawberry land hermit crab, are also maintained as pets in other regions of the world ( Coenobita perlatus ).
Although it is not difficult to locate land hermit crabs at pet stores, caution must be used when selecting a possible companion. Verify the presence of all the legs (3 pairs of walking legs), the condition of the head and thorax shells, the absence of parasites or other tiny insects, and the activity of the crab. Larger crabs could be more resilient, so if you already have a crab, it's crucial to match sizes precisely to prevent fighting.
Hermit Crab Resources and Accessories
Here are some nice pages featuring hermit crabs on the internet:
- Hermit-Crabs.com - A very thorough site about the care of land hermit crabs.
- Crab Street Journal - Collaborative online magazine all about hermit crabs with a strong community component.
Crabs and accessories are available online as well:
- The Crabbage Patch Store - Excellent selection of (especially nice shells at great prices).
- Florida Marine Research - Supplier of crabs and accessories. The site has care information and tips too.
- Pet Discounters.com - Good source of hermit crab supplies.