By June Girardi
Hermit crabs are often seen as souvenirs, carnival prizes, and inexpensive and easy to care for pets. In reality, though, land hermit crabs are exotic, wild caught crustaceans that require much more than that mall kiosk or pet store will ever tell you.
Many people give in to buying hermit crabs for their children thinking their hermits will be a short lived “novelty” pet for their kids to enjoy and take care of. Add in their tiny size, colorful painted shells, and small plastic cage kits that contain colorful gravel, a food dish, and a plastic palm tree and it’s easy to see why people have trouble resisting the impulse buy.
What a lot of people do not know is that a land hermit crab can live up to 30+ years in captivity and can grow to the size of a baseball or larger. Hermit crabs come from warm, tropical climates and require high humidity to breathe through their modified gills and do not breathe air like humans do. They require habitat temperatures of at least 75-85 degrees, and both fresh de-chlorinated water and marine grade saltwater at all times to survive. And those cute painted shells can be toxic when the paint is ingested. Some hermit crabs become trapped in their shells due to wet paint drying to their abdomen. Still seem like an easy, carefree pet?
When I received my first hermit crab I started out with a small cage, a water dish, and some store bought hermit crab food. I became incredibly interested in its care, where it came from, and how to keep it alive. I found myself online for hours looking up “hermit crab care” and learned that everything I was told about them was incorrect. I became frustrated and decided to give my hermit crab the best possible life “inside the box.” I soon upgraded him to a 50 gallon aquarium, got him some buddies, and all the proper items needed for a quality life.
Going off what I had learned, I decided to teach other people how to properly care for hermit crabs. I also started a small land hermit crab rescue out of my home to take in unwanted hermit crabs and find them new caregivers. Almost immediately I began getting emails from parents who bought hermit crabs on impulse or whose kids received them as a gift.
I started taking in a few hermit crabs at a time from people that found out how much care they needed and could not care for them, and they could not find anywhere else that would take them. Some people would drive over 300 miles to bring me their unwanted hermit crabs, and all were relieved they would be in good hands and find better homes.
My goal is to raise awareness on proper hermit crab care, educate people and pet stores, and find hermit crabs homes where they will be cared for properly. To learn more about proper hermit crab care and find out more about my rescue please visit HermitCrabLanding.com.