Care Guides: Fish
Land Hermit Crabs

Experience level: beginner

For ages: 8 & up, with adult supervision
Pet lifespan: approximately 20 years
Pet size: usually 1"- 3" long, but can grow up to 6"

Traits & behavior
Things to remember
PetSmart cares
Supply list

Traits & behavior

Land hermit crabs eat both animal and plant matter.

These docile pets will allow themselves to be handled. They will not pinch unless they feel threatened. Hermit crabs are social and can be kept in groups.

This means they need to shed their outer skin in order to grow.

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Things to remember

Never drop
A hermit crab's abdomen is very soft. Dropping them onto a hard surface will cause severe injuries or death.

After molting, crabs are extremely vulnerable because their bodies are soft and pliable. Isolate them from other crabs during this time.

Safety & cleanliness
Please remember that all pets may bite or scratch, and may transmit disease to humans. Keep your pet's home clean and wash your hands before and after handling your pet or cleaning his home. Infants, young children, pregnant women, people with compromised immune systems, and the infirm or elderly are at greater risk of infections and should use caution when in contact with the pet or its habitat. Consult your doctor for more information.

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Staple diet
Some crabs' claws are not big enough to grab on to pellet-type food. Therefore, you should feed them one teaspoon of prepared food in powdered form. If pellets are the only available option, crush them into powder.

Fresh foods*
To boost your crabs' overall health, supplement their diet with fruits and vegetables, such as chopped apples, grapes, bananas and dark green leafy veggies like kale and broccoli florets.

Slow eaters
Land hermit crabs take small bites and eat very slowly, usually at night. It is recommended that you place fresh foods in their tank at night, but be sure to remove them in the morning.

Be sure to use an aquarium dechlorinator to remove chlorine from their water.

Water containers
The right drinking water container is very important to the health of your crab. Since land hermit crabs are extremely sensitive to metal, be sure yours is a non-metallic, non-porous container. Also, be sure your container is not too deep as they like to drag themselves into the water dish and just sit. If you have both large and small crabs, place a natural sea sponge in the middle of the dish so there is something for the smaller crabs to grab on to should they stumble in and be unable to get out.

Every other day
Change your hermit crab's staple food and water every other day and clean the containers, even if the dish or bowl looks full.

*Remember that fresh food items require their own dish and should be removed from the habitat the morning after the night they are fed in order to prevent spoilage.

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A good rule of thumb is one gallon of habitat space for every two crabs. Be sure there is enough room in their habitat for them to move around without constantly stepping on each other.

Tank lids
Use a tight-fitting lid to prevent your hermit crabs from escaping.

Provide the crabs with a hiding shelter to sleep in during the day.

Day and night temperatures should range between 70-75º F. Use an under tank heater on one side of the habitat to maintain this temperature in cool environments.

Habitat humidity should stay between 70-80%.

Place 2"-3" of clean gravel or sand on the bottom of your tank. Be sure there is always at least one inch of substrate over the undertank heater, if used, to protect the crabs from the heat. Coconut bark can also be used and can help retain humidity.

Provide at least two larger extra shells of varying sizes for your crab. Do not be alarmed if your crab changes its shell as often as every two days.

Hermit crabs do not require aquarium hood lights. Normal room lighting 10-12 hours per day is sufficient.

Aquarium placement
Place your aquarium in a low-traffic area, away from direct sunlight and drafts.

PetSmart cares

We take a variety of measures to ensure our hermit crabs are healthy and happy from the start. Our suppliers screen them for optimum health prior to sending them to our stores. To ensure they stay healthy after arrival, each PetSmart store provides adequate nutrition and an appropriate habitat.

14-day guarantee
All pets sold in our aquatics department have a 14-day satisfaction guarantee. This means we will replace or refund the purchase price of any pet that becomes ill or dies during this period, provided the pet is returned to the store where it was purchased along with the sales receipt.

Is a land hermit crab right for you?

I have an appropriate location and space for a correctly sized home.
I will provide adequate nutrition and a proper environment for any hermit crab I keep in my tank.
I understand that hermit crabs have claws and may pinch if not handled correctly.
I understand that hermit crabs are easily injured if dropped.
A responsible adult will be the primary caregiver.

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Supply list

Here's a list of the necessities you'll need to take home today to help your new hermit crabs stay healthy and happy. Please ask a PetSmart associate to help you choose these items.

An appropriate size glass or acrylic aquarium or other suitable habitat
Aquarium hood with lights or screen top
Gravel, sand or coconut bark
Reptile tank thermometer
Reptile tank hygrometer
Aquarium heater and thermometer
Food bowl
Water bowl
Sea sponge to put in water bowl
Prepared hermit crab food (powdered)
Fresh fruits and veggies
Decorations (driftwood/rock/ornament)
Shelter for sleeping
Plastic plants for climbing
Extra shells
Water dechlorinator
Hermit crab salt (follow package instructions)
Books and magazines

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This Care Guide contains general information and helpful tips for the proper care of your pet, but is not comprehensive. Speak with our PetSmart store associates or contact a veterinarian with questions about your pet's health.