Hermit Crab Habitats

My junior year of college, I was leaving the local mall and saw a strange little cage in the parking lot. It was a wire mesh cylinder, with plastic at the top and bottom. Inside? Two little hermit crabs!

Someone must have put the cage down while loading the car and forgot their new hermies! I brought them home to the dorm and named them Sebastian (for the crab in The Little Mermaid, of course!) and Jack (for Jack Nicholson, the crabbiest actor I could think of.)

Jack and Sebastian lived with me for the better part of two years. Hermit crabs really are interesting little fellows! If you decide to add hermies to your family, here are some hermit crab housing basics that will come in hand.

Your Crabitat

These little guys love to move! Climbing, racing, exploring… you’ll constantly hear the soft “scritch scritch” of their little legs moving through the sand. So you want your crab habitat to be big enough for them to roam. And I say “them” because despite their hermity name, hermit crabs are happiest with friends. Buy your hermies in pairs, at the very least.

You don’t want your crabitat to be too warm or too cold. Around 72 degrees Fahrenheit is pretty close to perfect temperature. Don’t leave them in direct sunlight — unless you want baked crab for dinner. You can buy an under-sand heater for your tank, if you so desire.

The tank should be approximately the size of a ten gallon aquarium tank, with sides deep enough that your little climbers won’t make a break for it! Jack and Sebastian lived in one of those big plastic storage bins that I used to transport my stuff to and from college. They couldn’t climb the slick walls, but they had plenty of space to play in. Their original tiny wire cage became the centerpiece of the tank, where they could climb to their hearts’ content!

Other essentials in the crabitat are:

  • Food and water dish — don’t make your water dish deep enough to drown smaller crabs!
  • Spare shells for molting season — as your hermies grow, they will trade up to a larger shell.
  • Climbing toys — driftwood, an empty clay flower pot, even plastic reptile ladders are great entertainment for your crabs!

A good rule of thumb is: don’t put anything in your crab habitat that you wouldn’t put in a fish tank. Straight tap water is full of chemicals and whatnot that can be very harmful to your hermies! At the very least, all water needs to be dechlorinated.

A large sea-sponge in a dish with water will be a great way to keep the tank humid — hermies like a nice, moist tropical environment. The sponge should be sterilized before you add it to the tank, and will need a periodic cleaning to remove bacteria and waste.