Hermit crabs make fun, loving pets and are actually a lot more interesting than most people probably realize. These clever little creatures are invertebrates and have no backbone. They live in shells which they find on the ocean to cover and protect their soft bodies, which are twisted and remain hidden within their shells. Hermit crabs have ten legs with joints (only six of its legs actually show) and two very powerful claws in front.
If you are looking for a pet that will bring fun, excitement, and meaning into your life, than look no further than a hermit crab! These unconventional pets are great for anyone, especially individuals who are quirky and like standing apart from the crowd cause come on, who doesn’t want to walk up to their friends and proudly announce “I have crabs!” Everybody has a dog or a cat, but these little guys are even better! Here are 7 reasons why hermit crabs are more fun than your dog:
1. Hermit Crabs Carry Their Houses On Their Backs
Admit it, you’d live in a Lego house if you could
Contrary to popular belief, hermit crabs do not own their shells; they carry them around on their backs. This is because unlike true crabs, hermits have soft, vulnerable abdomens. Most crabs borrow abandoned sea snail shells that they find laying on the beach to cover up with for protection from predators. When a hermit crab finds a shell that is just the right fit, it pulls itself inside, leaving 6 of its legs, and head outside of the shell. A hermit crab carries this shell around wherever it goes until it outgrows the shell and switches to a larger one. In the wild this can be a huge problem for crabs, as there is often a shortage of available shells. You might find some crabs using pieces of coconut shells or bamboo, or in even more desperate cases, broken pieces of glass bottle tops to substitute for the shell they can’t seem to find on shore. This is rather unfortunate as many crabs who can’t find shells will be eaten by predators or die from suffocating in a shell that is too small for their body because they cannot find a bigger, more suitable shell.
2. Hermit Crabs Live In Mansions and You Are Their Butler
Probably the best thing about owning a hermit crab is getting to decorate its tank, and no we’re not talking about the little plastic square containers they often sell them in at the pet stores, as these are disgusting and unsuitable for crabs. They are way too small. Rather, a 30 gallon fish tank of crab paradise. While it may sound silly at first, crabs love to be active. They are nocturnal animals that spend most of their night playing and climbing on things and eating. It is so much fun to not just build your pet crab a habitat, but a “crabitat”. You can include all kinds of neat features in this crabitat. Some owners have even found that purchasing items like bird ladders and setting them up on one wall of their tank has kept their crabs happy as can be. Watch them fight each other to try to get to the top first. Hermit crabs love to climb, and they love to bury themselves. The options are endless. You can build them tunnels out of old toilet paper rolls, PVC pipe, or plastic tubes, or even make them slides. Some crab owners have made steps or ladders out of legos or blocks. Pieces of netting make great hammocks for your crab to rest or swing on. Many pet stores also sell cute little “crab shacks” “crab pools” and coconut huts for your crab to hang out in. Be sure to include one dish with fresh water and one with salt water for your crab to drink from and bathe in. Each should contain a small piece of sponge that your crab can latch onto to keep from drowning. Your crab will also love pieces of cuttlebone, driftwood, logs, rocks, sea shells, wire walls, bridges, coconut fiber walls, coconut fiber substrate, dirt, sand, plants, and/or other aquarium décor. By the time you’re done decorating, your crab will have a nicer house than you!
3. Hermit Crabs Eat Their Own Skin, Your Dog Just Sheds All Over The House
Hermit crabs can be a whole spectrum of different colors. Most are typically a reddish color, or an orange or brown shade. Many also have purple spots or patterns. Some hermit crabs have very purple claws. Hermit crabs also go through a molting process, in which they shed their exoskeleton and move from one shell to another. During this time their skin may be paler and their eyes might appear to be cloudy. After a hermit crab re-emerges from burying himself after a molt, it will consume its old skin for extra nutrients. Yum!
4. Your Dog Will Chase You But Your Hermit Crab Will Race You
$20 on the big one
Despite the name hermit crab, these creatures are anything but hermits. They love crowds and are very social creatures. Hermit crabs get very lonely on their own and prefer to live in groups with other crabs, sometimes even in the hundreds. Crabs are most active at night, but can also be seen crawling around a bit during the day. In fact, climbing is one of their favorite hobbies. If you have more than one crab, it is always fun to have a hermit crab race. Take them out of the tank and see which crab will win. They are fast little critters and will amaze you at how quickly they try to escape to the other side of the house. Be sure to keep an eye on them though, or they might just pull a Harry Houdini.
5. Hermit Crabs Can Open Coconuts Faster Than Tom Hanks Trapped On An Island
No joke, these little guys are a force to be reckoned with. Don’t let their vulnerable little bodies, and cute little beady eyes fool you, they are tougher than they look. Hermit crabs are very strong creatures, and you will find out just how strong they really are if they accidentally latch onto your finger every now and then. Their force is strong enough to draw blood and even make you cry, kick and scream like a little baby. Believe it or not, these crabs are able to break open coconuts and lift up to nine pounds. That’s the size of a small house cat!
6. Hermit Crabs Will Eat Anything, Your Dog Just Eats Kibble and Your New Shoes
One of the greatest things about keeping a hermit crab as a pet is that they are easy to feed and take care of, and cost very little to provide for. Hermit crabs are not picky eaters by any means. Hermit crabs can be very inexpensive to feed as they share a diet very similar to humans: meat, fish, fresh fruits and vegetables. A lot of their favorite snack foods can even be bought in bulk at places like the dollar store. For instance, the smaller portioned seed and nut variety snack or trail mix bags that are sold for $1 make a perfect meal for hermit crabs and last them months if you add other items to their diet. Hermit crabs love tuna, peanut butter, crackers, grapes, raisins, popcorn, bananas, strawberries, blueberries, star fruit, coconut, freeze dried shrimp, worms, krill, plankton, bloodworms, crickets, mangoes, papayas, nuts, trail mix, apple sauce, cereal, plant based iguana food, fish food flakes, brine shrimp, fish vegetable flakes, carrots, algae, hermit crab pellets, seaweed, grapes, melons, spinach, watercress, broccoli, calcium vitamin supplements, cuttlebone, ground up cyster shells, ground up egg shells, seeds, berries, etc. It can be a lot of fun to experiment with different foods and see which ones your crab likes the most, and if you are sick of trying to break open that raw coconut you brought home for hermie, just hand it on over to him and watch him work his magic. Your tired machete and/or hammer will be glad that you did.
7. Hermit Crabs Are Like Living Mood Rings
As mentioned above, your crab’s skin and pincer color and brightness can vary greatly depending on the types of foods you feed it. Most of the time, the darker the crab, the more carotene or zeaxanthin it gets, as these two nutrients are known to enhance color.
In addition, hermit crabs have been known to live for up to 15-20 years in captivity. If you take good enough care of them, they have been known to live for about 6-8 years when kept as pets. When you adopt a hermit crab, you are adopting a friend for life!