What Do Hermit Crabs Need In Captivity?


by Simon Griffiths


Hermit crabs are often confused to be low-maintenance pets, but that is far from the truth. These little creatures can easily die due to lack of proper care. So, if you are looking into getting hermit crabs as pets, you should first understand what they require to survive and live a happy life in captivity.

So, what do hermit crabs need in captivity?

For starters, hermit crabs need heat, freshwater, saltwater, a wide variety of food, humidity, good substrate, companionship, a large tank, extra shells, toys, plants, hides, a climbing room, and many more!

If you can provide your little crabs with everything they need, then they’ll have a chance to live for long. Make sure to read on if you wish to know more on what hermit crabs need as pets.


What Do Hermit Crabs Need In Captivity?

If you’ve decided to have a pet land hermit crab, you should purchase all the supplies needed to get you started. This way, you’ll be all set to bring in the crab into his or her forever home.

1. Tank

Due to the nature of hermit crabs, you will need to invest in a large tank. You can either choose to go with a plastic or glass tank and make sure it has a lid. Glass tanks are the best because they can contain humidity pretty well.

Plastic tanks are also good, but they work well when used as isolation tanks or temporary homes. The size of your tank should be determined by how big your hermit crabs can get and the number you plan on keeping.

Experts recommend that you purchase a large tank if you have the budget for it. A 20 or 50 gallon tank should be enough to house three or four hermit crabs.

2. Extra Shells

Hermit crabs need shells in order to survive. These crabs cannot survive without shells as their abdomen and tail are weak and vulnerable. Hermit crabs will need to change shells if they feel that their old shells are becoming too small.

Sometimes they just change shells for fun, but you’ll need to provide them with extra shells either way. Make sure you choose different sizes, so that your hermit crab can have options as he or she grows.

Related What To Do When Your Hermit Crab Leaves Its Shell

3. Heating supplies

Hermit crabs should be kept in temperatures of 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit at night and 65-75 degrees at night. These temperatures are hard to achieve without using some heating supplies. You should purchase a heating pad or a heating lamp.

The heating pad can be fixed on the side of the terrarium or under the tank. Make sure you cover it with enough substrate if you use it under the tank. For those who have massive terrariums, you can invest in a low wattage heat lamp.

Related Do Hermit Crabs Need A Heat Lamp or Heating Pad? 

4. Supplies for Moisture

Hermit crabs rely on modified gills to breathe and they should be kept moist at all times. In fact, their habitat should have a relative humidity of 70-80%.

Maintaining such a humidity level can be a bit difficult but it is not entirely impossible. All you have to do is mist the tank frequently. You can as well use a humidifier/fogger if you want to automate the process. Natural sponges from pet retailers should work just fine when it comes to maintaining humidity.

You will also need to invest in a hygrometer to help you monitor the humidity levels in the pet hermit crab habitat.

Can A Hermit Crab Breath Underwater? 

5. Substrate

Hermit crabs love to dig and bury themselves, meaning you should supply them with good substrate. Most people prefer to use playground or aquarium sand as it is easy to burrow down into it.

If sand is not an option for you, go with Forest bedding or Eco Earth substrate. Whichever substrate you choose, make sure it is good for burrowing, and can retain moisture.

Related The Best Substrates For A Hermit Crab Tank

6. Dishes/ bowls

As you well know, your pet hermit crabs will need to feed and drink and swim as well. It is for this reason you need to have some bowls and dishes set up in the tank.

The tank should have a food dish, a freshwater bowl and a saltwater bowl. Make sure you choose a food bowl that is shallow, heavy and easy to clean. A ceramic dish should work just fine.

The water bowls should be easy for the hermit to get in and out of. If your bowls are too deep, then you might risk the crab drowning.

Related Can Hermit Crabs Drown in Water And Can They Swim?

7. Stuff To Climb On

Apart from burrowing, hermit crabs love climbing and it is important that you provide them with stuff to climb on. Climbing help them to exercise especially when they are locked up in a cage.

Pet stores have lots of stuff that are great for climbing on. Some of these things include coral, choya wood, driftwood and artificial plants. You can also use DIY climbing structures if you want your hermit crab’s cage to look great.

Related Cool and Safe Toys That Hermit Crabs Love

8. Hideouts

Your hermit crabs will also want some place to hide away when they need to rest. Hideouts come in various forms, meaning that you’’ have plenty of options to choose from.

Apart from providing shelter, hideouts provide the crabs with a feeling of privacy and security. Some hermits will use these huts for climbing and playing.

9. Companionship

Hermit crabs are social animals and prefer to live in colonies. You should try your best to provide your pet hermit crab with a friend or two. Multiple crabs will provide each other with companionship and they will make good play mates. Of course your hermit crab won’t die because of loneliness, but it’s best for them to live together.

10. Food Supplies

These crustaceans also need to eat and the good thing is they can eat almost anything. They have a diverse kind of diet which we won’t discuss in detail on this article.

Related Is a Hermit Crab a Carnivore or an Omnivore?


Wrapping Up

Caring for hermit crabs should be a walk in the park if you provide them with everything we’ve discussed above. Yes, hermit crabs might not require elaborate homes, but you should spoil them with whatever they need to be healthy and happy.

Simon Griffiths

Hi guys, my name is Simon, a fellow pet lover. I love everything about traditional and exotic pets so I am here to help you create a better home for your pets.