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Hermit Crab Crabitat Factoids

Container Rubbermaid tub or aquarium -- about 20 gallons
Substrate 25 pounds of crushed coral
Water One fresh.  One with a pinch of salt and a sponge.
Commercial Foods Lots to choose from
Natural Food Subway sandwiches, table scraps, trail mix
Climbing Areas Cholla wood plus other rough surfaces
Hiding Areas Coconut caves, ceramic or resin caves
Helpful Equipment Temperature and Humidity gauges
Working Schedule Prefers the night shift

LA

Crabitat Container:  Rubbermaid containers are sturdy enough to handle the weight of this wet crushed coral substrate.  I like the handles on the side.  Aquariums and critter cages are very awkward to handle when full of substrate.  And those clear plastic containers won't hold up at all -- especially if you add more substrate.

Crabitat Substrate:  Crushed coral is unprepossessing to say the least.  Ugly may be a better description.  And it's dusty.  Don't try to wash it in the tub.  Use a bucket and a strong hose to de-dust it.  You'll never get it all out, so just rinse it several times and pour it in your tub wet.  Water below the substrate surface will help keep the humidity high.

LA

Crabitat Water:  There's water below the surface, but let's give them a couple of water bowls -- one freshwater and one with a large pinch of salt.  We don't worry about removing chlorine because we have many fish tanks of aged water within easy reach.  And it's always a good idea to mist the little rascals every so often.  You want to keep their gills moist.  Beware, some of the resin water dishes leak like a sieve.  But you really should give them new water on a daily basis anyway.

Crabitat Salt?  All the hermit crab sites say absolutely never use salt that contains iodine in your water or it will kill your crabs dead.  You're supposed to use synthetic sea salts instead.  However, they have no idea what ingredients synthetic sea salts contain.  It tastes very nasty.  Here's a little secret for you, salt is made from evaporated sea water.  I buy mine in forty pound bags.  If I didn't use so much salt, I'd try Kosher salt because it tastes better to me.  However, it contains ferrocyanide as an anti-caking additive, so it might not work out over the long haul. 
 LA
Add a sponge to make it easier for smaller crabs to bail out of the water.

LA
Cholla wood makes a good tree substitute.

Crabitat Climbing Surfaces:  Many hermit crabs live in trees.  All like to climb.  Cholla wood (a cactus skeleton) meets their needs admirably.  The little holes fit their little crab feet.  You can lay it on its side or stand it up.  If you have a hollow piece, make sure you plug the ends so they won't wedge themselves into a place they can't back out of.  They will try.

LA
Feed (lightly) a good staple food.

LA
You'll find plenty of other hermit crab foods to choose from.

Crabitat Food:  Tetra's Hermit Crab Meal makes an excellent basic diet.  Above we've added some koi pellets to add a bit of variety.  We carry nearly a dozen other hermit crab foods but wind up using Tetra most frequently.  Hermit crabs like bits of fruits and greens also.  Bits of boiled or scrambled eggs hit the spot even more.  They will also learn to eat baby foods from a small spoon.  Don't forget to burp them.  And remove any uneaten fresh food daily.  It's a good idea to remove fresh foods often.  Hermit crabs will eat "old food," but you will probably get a pesky fruit fly infestation.

LA
Carrots and greens taste good to some crabs.  They eat more at night.

LA
Boiled eggs provide fats, proteins, and calcium (from the shell).

Do-It-Yourself Foods:  Give them a half-inch slice of Subway's daily special.  I read several crab websites that list the exact ingredients to include and exclude.  Too much trouble.  Go with Jared's daily special for the variety.  Quiznos is okay.  Blimpies is good, too.  Jimmy John's is probably too high in protein.  When you feed so-called natural foods, you will need to remove the uneaten foods on a regular basis.

LA
Here's a resin pagoda stone cave that will make a good hidey hole..

Crabitat Caves:  Hermit crabs like to duck out of sight of those big monsters that probably want to eat them (you).  They spend a lot of time hiding and loafing if they can.  Hiding places are a necessity if you want them to molt.  Hermit crabs grow by molting.  Small ones molt more often than large ones.  Large hermits also take longer to molt and need a deeper substrate to molt successfully -- enough to totally bury themselves.

LA
Caves also make a nice climbing area.  This one's maybe a little too smooth.

LA
You will find beau coup hermit crab paraphernalia available.

Crabitat Schmatateria:  You'll find plenty of hermit crab furniture and decor.  You can add as much as you desire.  And feel free to re-decorate at will.  Your hermit crabs enjoy investigating new items. 

Crabitat Equipment:  Depending upon your room temp, you may need an under tank heater, a warming light bulb, a temperature gauge (often called a thermometer), and a humidity gauge (often called a hygrometer or less often a psychrometer).  We don't need either since we keep the entire room at 74-76 degrees.  You might say that the hundreds of bubbling aquaria keep the room nice and humid.  In the summer our air conditioner vents "rain" in a few spots.

LA
Starting to get crowded but most of the fairly few crabs are hiding -- except the ones eating.

LA
Time to add some more crabs.  We have more crab furniture than crabs.

LA
Add some extra larger shells.

LA
Plenty to choose from -- both natural and "fancy."

Crabitat Shells:  Every day is mall day for hermit crabs.  They enjoy trying on a new outfit every so often.  You probably won't need three-way mirrors, but you will want to offer them extra shells to try on.  Some hermit crab fans insist that crabs break off pieces of panted shells, eat them, and die.  I queried one of the FMR people about this and he said it's an untrue belief.  I would tend to side with the FMR guy, but neither side provides the hard physical evidence to conclusively prove either belief.

LA
Ta da.  We put the same items in a 20H.  Looks better, but hermit crabs couldn't care less.

Crabitat Aquaria:  Good old aquaria always make good crabitats.  With a black background, your hermits stand out much better.  They tend to blend into aquatic plant backgrounds.  To add a jungle look, you can add hanging vines.

LA
Different angle on the same crabitat.  We'll thin out some of this clutter.

LA
One little guy trying out the cholla wood "tree."

LA
This is why they call them tree crabs.  How did the big guy get past the little guy?

LA
They take turns playing king of the cholla hill.

LA
For one or two small hermit crabs,  You don't need lots and lots of room.

Crabitat Containers:  You'll find plenty of Crabitat Mini-Kits to choose from.  Most of these are really starter kits.  They will whet your interest in getting started.  Most of them are purchased as gifts for kids.  True hermit crab enthusiasts look down their noses at these kits.

LA
Hermit crabs start checking out their new quarters very quickly.

Crabitat Citizens:  Your main interest centers around the denizens you select to populate the crabitat you construct.  Large hermit crabs cost more.  However you can add lots of little guys and populate a very interesting crabitat.

LA
The bigger guys are easier to see and they make more noise.  (Actually, he's only an inch.)

LA
I didn't like the previous setup, so I re-did it with reptile calci-sand and pieces of cork board.

LA
When introduced to their newly decorated quarters, they began exploring their new home.

LA
This little guy investigates the new wooden cave.

LA
Satisfied, he begins to look around.

LA
Including a climb to the highest peak.

LA
These nosy little guys are about an inch across.

LA
They really love to climb on the rough cork bark.

LA
And they all want to climb to the top.

LA
So the crabitat was ready for us to add 30 more hermit crabs

LA
They're all about this size.

LA
Most of them ran into this cave.

LA
One hermit crab checking out the banana.

Medium Citizens:  Medium hermit crabs Are more fun to watch (and see), so let's hit the re-start button and start another crabitat for larger crabs.  We'll use white sand this time because it contrasts much better with the crabs and their shells.

LA
Here's a couple of the new "mediums."

LA
These guys are heavier and stronger so we used sturdier equipment.

"Playground" Equipment:  We gave them a rough piece of coral plus a resin log to climb on.  They can also hide or sleep or rest inside the resin log.  They can bury themselves in the sand should they decide to molt.

LA
They also need food and water.

LA
They like the Tetra crab meal.

LA
Here's some blanched summer squash they're trying.

LA
One of the hermies checking out an empty shell.

LA
And here's a guy checking out the guy who's checking out the empty shell.

LA
Another guy looking for a new apartment.

LA
Most of them spent their time climbing and exploring -- probably looking for food..

LA

LA
This guy's a little different than the others.

LA
When we lift up their cave the next day, we find several hiding in their cave.

LA
They pretty much polished off their crab mea leaving nothing but sand.

LA
They pretty much left the blanched summer squash.

LA
Next night, they got fresh sweet corn which they loved.

LA
And pretty much ignored the commercial foods offered.   Feed a variety.

LA
Different batch eating the Tetra food

LA
Not so many at the FMR lunch table in the same cage.

LA
They take little teeny bites out of thin carrot slices.

LA
So, we'll continue offering the various brands of crab food plus fresh foods.

LA
Hermit crabs may pinch occasionally, but they would not purposely harm a fly.

Last Word:  We cannot make every hermit crab groupie happy (some of them are genetically crabby), however, we can keep our hermit crabs happy.  LA

More Crab Pics:  

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Hermit Crabs
Hermit Crabs II

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