Everything you need to know to raise Land Hermit Crabs
There are two main kinds of hermit crab: the marine ones and the land dwellers. Here, we'll learn about the scraggly landlubbers, who don't visit their seafaring cousins very often.
Before we get on with it, I want to ask you if the way regular crabs walk sideways reminds you of cowboys in a Western shootout - I always think of that kind of scene, especially when they have their pincers pointing up at you as if they're ready to shoot!
Anyway, your hermit crab certainly won't be able to take you for ransom, as their pincers can't really hurt you.
Here are a few names I think your hermit will like.
Names for boy hermits:
Names for girl hermits:
It is important that the crab is lively and moves about, and that it has not been kept with crabs that are much larger than it is, as the biggies tend to be 'crabby' and often pick on the smaller critters.
Place your hermit on a flat surface, and ask anyone standing near it to move away so that there are no shadows to scare it into staying put; see if it stirs. They tend to be shy, and take a while to come out of their shell (so that's where the phrase comes from!), so be patient. If there is no movement at all, not even any antennae-wiggling, then you'd best look at a few others.
Ask the pet store attendant to recommend a few extra shells that your hermit can move to when it outgrows its current one, and wash and clean these out well with plain water before placing them in the tank. You could also try boiling the shells for a few minutes to make sure they're really clean - just make sure that the hermit is not in any of them at the time, unless you're trying out mum's recipe for crab soup!
Its bedding, or 'substrate' if you want to be all scientific about it, should be a layer of sand, as hermits naturally like to burrow. Calcium-based sand is great, and is available at good pet stores: crabs tend to eat it to keep their shells hard and healthy. You're likely to find colourful sand of this type, too, just in case Hermie is the artistic, home-proud type.
There are other good reasons to use sand, too. Wet waste makes the sand clump, and it is easy to clean these clumps away, plus the sand can be washed and dried if you have the patience for that sort of thing.
If nothing else, use plain playground sand, but remember to wash and dry it before using it to line the bottom of the tank. Let the sand be just a little bit moist, as this helps the crabs to 'moult' or shed their skin. Other options are fine gravel or river stones, but my advice is use sand because burrowing is easiest in this kind of bedding. Just don't use wood shavings, and your hermit should be fine.
Placing the heater under one part of the tank ensures that the temperature is not the same in all areas, so that the crab can move across to get cosy to the warmer areas when it's cold, and to the cooler bits when it's feeling a little toasty. Just be sure to let the area that's coolest stay at least 72 degrees warm.
Here are the different kinds of food you can feed it; use a combination of a few one day, then a mix of others another day: mango, papaya, coconut (fresh or dried), apples, applesauce, bananas, grapes, pineapple, strawberries, melons, carrots, spinach, watercress, leafy green lettuces (not iceberg or head lettuce), broccoli, grass leaves, unsalted nuts, peanut butter (occasionally), raisins, seaweed (found in some health food and grocery stores), unsalted crackers, unsweetened cereals, plain rice cakes, cooked eggs, meats and seafood (in moderation), freeze-dried shrimp and plankton which you will find in the fish food section at the pet store, and fish food flakes.
Avoid citrus and acidic fruits like oranges and tomatoes (yes, the tomato is actually a fruit), starchy vegetables like potatoes, and dairy products like cheese. Also try and feed them calcium in the form of calcium and vitamin supplements, crushed oyster shells, and even crushed eggshells.
The water bowl your hermit will use should be large enough to let it move about easily in, but not so deep that he or she could drown in it. Use small stones and pebbles as steps to let Hermie climb in and out of the pool. Be sure to use some water dechlorination treatment, which you will find at the pet store.