The Student News Site of Kennard-Dale High School

You’re Killing the Hermit Crabs!

April 26, 2018

At any beach, you’ll see stores with big cages full of  hermit crabs of various sizes adorning brightly painted shells.

When you buy one, they put it in a very small cage with a wet sponge and a small pack of food and send you on your way, usually for a very low price.

Most people believe that no more needs to be done to care for these animals and, because of this, they make perfect pets for children.

This isn’t true.

Hermit crabs are incredibly delicate creatures that are more high maintenance than most people believe.

These little crustaceans are land dwelling crabs, though many people believe that they are beach dwelling animals. They only go to the water to breed; other than that, they remain on land and in the forest.

Hermit crabs live within the tree line where there is plenty of dirt and plant matter. Because of this, hermit crabs need a dirt substrate at the bottom of the tank.

Contrary to their needs, many pet stores hawk calcium sand labeled specifically for hermit crab enclosures, but this sand can be deadly to them. The sand collects and hardens inside their shells.

These animals need a deep substrate so that they can dig into it. Hermit crabs dig into their dirt when they are molting–a process in which hermit crabs shed their exoskeleton.

This deep surface is very important, because without the ability to dig, hermit crabs can become  stressed very quickly. There has to be at least six inches of substrate in the tank.

The crabs also enjoy climbing, so much so that they are often referred to as tree crabs, so it is important that there are plenty of things for the hermit crabs to climb.

These things can be fake trees, netting, or even things like fake plants.

In addition to these requirements, Hermit crabs are from the Caribbean and Ecuador, so they are animals that thrive in heat and humidity.

A hermit crab’s tank should be at least 72 degrees fahrenheit at all times, though it is better for the temperature to be closer to 80 degrees fahrenheit.

Humidity is very important for a hermit crab to be happy and healthy. The humidity in the tank should be between 75 and 80 percent.

This can be achieved through misting the tank multiple times a day or setting up a humidifier.

Hermit crabs also need space. The tiny containers given to you at stores are not nearly enough. The recommended size is a ten gallon tank for a single crab and a 20 gallon or more tank for multiple crabs.

Not only can an enclosure that’s too small stress the crab out, in small areas, multiple crabs will fight and kill each other.

Additionally, Hermit crabs require a varied diet. At the store, they will provide you with food pellets, but hermit crabs are omnivores and need more than this.

They need fruits and vegetables — dried or fresh — and things like shrimp, fish, or mealworms.

It is also necessary to change their diets regularly because they get bored eating the same thing over and over and will starve themselves.

Not only is the care these animals require monumentally greater than most people think, these animals are also all wild-caught.

Wild-caught animals are taken directly from their native habitats where they thrive and thrust into cages to be sold.

The treatment of these animals when being prepared is horrific.

They’re shells are broken and they are forced into painted shells that are more appealing to children.

In some worse scenarios, the shells are painted while the hermit crab is inside and they get glued in by the drying paint and slowly die.

These animals are perhaps some of the most neglected pets owned, and they do not make good pets for anyone, but especially children.

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