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Taking Care of the Hermit Crab as a Pet for Kids

The pet store may have sold you on getting hermit crabs as pets by touting their “easy” care and set up. However, Animal Diversity Web reports that a hermit crab as a pet, the oldest hermit crabs live just four years. Yet in the wild, they can live up to 25 years. The reason for the difference is the general misinformation given to pet owners resulting in exceptionally poor care of these land crabs when kept as pets.  Learn all you can about hermit crabs as pets and you and your kids may have your unusual pet for decades to come.

Your Hermit Crab Pets Supplies List –

  • 10 or 20-gallon tank with a solid lid
  • Sand
  • Empty shells
  • Wood pieces
  • Thermometer
  • Humidity gauge
  • Heating pad
  • 2 Water bowls
  • Food bowl
  • Sponge
  • Moss
  • Dechlorinator
  • Marine salt

About Your Pet Hermit Crap: Habitats

You will need a 10 or 20-gallon tank to set up your hermit crab pet habitat. For every three hermit crabs, you will need 10-gallons worth of space. Use 1 to 3 inches of sand as the substrate. Add several choices of shells that are larger than your hermit crab’s current size. Hermit crabs move to bigger shells as they grow. You can also place small pieces of wood in the cage.

What Hermit Crabs Eat and Drink

These omnivores will eat a variety of foods right from your kitchen. In a shallow bowl you can feed them scrambled or boiled eggs, cooked chicken, and a variety of chopped fruits and vegetables. They do need brightly colored vegetables such as yams, carrots, and peppers for good health.

. Just like fish, the chlorine in the water can harm your hermit crab. You can treat the water with the same treatments used for fish tanks.  In the second water bowl, make a salt-water solution using marine aquarium salt. These may be land crabs, but they do live near the ocean in the wild and do need salt water.


Hermit crabs need a constant temperature of about 72 to 80 degrees F. You will need a thermometer in the cage to help you maintain the temperature. You can use a reptile heating pad under the tank or a 25-watt bulb in a lamp above the tank to heat the habitat. If temperatures regularly drop below 70 degrees, your hermit crab pets will become less active and may not survive.


Of most importance to setting up a proper hermit crab pet habitat is maintaining the proper humidity levels. Hermit crabs breathe through gills, which need to be kept moist from moisture in the air. If their gills become too dry they will suffocate. Your hermit crabs’ molting can also be affected by low humidity.

You will need a humidity gauge inside the tank. Maintain the tank with 70% to 80% humidity levels. Below 70% is too dry. You can do this using one or more methods such as keeping a soaked sponge, soaked moss, pieces of wood, and/or leaf litter in the tank and/or misting the tank with a squirt bottle regularly. Also use a solid lid with only a small hole or two for ventilation to keep in the moisture.

Cleaning the Habitat

Sift the sand daily with a slotted spoon to remove droppings and left over food.  Every few months do a complete cleaning by throwing out 75% of the sand and replacing it with new sand. It’s recommended that you keep about 25% of the old sand in the tank to keep the good bacteria that lives in the sand.

Bringing Home Your Hermit Crab Pet

Unless you purchased or adopted your hermit crab pet from a retailer or someone with good knowledge of how to care for a hermit crab, you’ll need to slowly transition your hermit crab into his new home. At most pet stores, hermit crabs are not in proper habitats with the correct temperature or humidity conditions. And although your hermit crab habitat may be just right, the sudden move can make your new pet very sick and even cause legs to fall off.

You will need to take at least a month to transition your pet hermit crab from the pet store conditions to its proper environmental conditions. To do this, start by keeping the tank temperature and humidity at the same levels as the pet store, which are usually about 50% to 55% and 72 degrees F. Then each week, work to increase the humidity by about 5%. When your tank has reached the optimal humidity levels of 70 to 80%, you can then increase the temperature to the optimal 75 to 85 degrees F. Although, start the temperature out on the lower end of this range for a few days so you don’t further stress your hermit crabs.


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