Hermit crabs are interesting little critters that do make for really good pets. However before you rush out and buy one, it might be an idea to learn a little about how they behave in their natural environment. If you have a good understanding of how they live, then you will find that you will have years of carefree pet keeping. So without further ado, here is a little bit of background knowledge that will help you to get acquainted with them.
The little crawlers are really not crabs at all, in fact their nearest relatives are spiders. This is because unlike real crabs, they are not born with their own shells. Instead, they forage for the shells of discarded crustaceans to make their homes in. This means that if you are keeping them in captivity you will have to supply them with a constant stream of varying shell types.
Another interesting fact is that there are well over 500 species of the crawling crabbies. The majority of these are ocean going critters. However, a handful of these make their homes on dry land in or around the shoreline. Out of this handful there are only 2 types that are sold as pets in the USA today and these are the Coenibita Clypeatus which covers your tree or soldier crab, purple pincher and Caribbean crab. The second type is the Coenibita Compressus which includes the Ecuadorian crab. This is also affectionately known as the E-crab or the “eccie”
All land based species of these crawlers thrive in tropical climates so it is very important when keeping one as a pet to make sure that you regulate the temperature. It needs to be kept at around 72oF and the humidity levels within the tank need to be at 70%. Any major differences in temperature or humidity could cause major problems for the little fellow.
These crabby companions unlike their names are not at all solitary creatures. In fact they thrive in small groups or colonies. So if you are considering buying one as a pet then you will need to consider more than one.
When considering what to feed your little crawlers, you need to look at what they eat in their natural environment! As they are born foragers, they particularly like to seek out fruit such as mango and papaya. Tree bark and the occasional leaf also feature on their dietary requirements. They are even fond of small crustaceans such as marine shrimps as well as carrion (dead animals and fish). In a nutshell they are not fussy at all about what they eat, so try to vary their food in captivity. You can buy manufactured special food for these critters from most pet stores but this does get a little expensive. Another way around this is to feed the crab baby food. This is a good source of protein. These little crawlers also like to crunch when they munch so a carrot or two (diced up of course) wouldn’t go amiss. Funnily they also have a bit of a sweet tooth. So the next time you feel like a sneaky piece of chocolate, don’t forget your crab!
If you can begin to understand your little crustacean companions and can really get to know them then you will find that looking after them is not only a breeze, but is also very enjoyable.