Hermit crabs are soft bodied marine crustaceans that have no shell. They instead find and live inside of shells left by other marine mollusks. As they grow they discard the old shell and find a larger shell to live in. Hermit crabs carry these shells on their backs as a way to protect their soft bodies from predators. There are 1100 species of hermit crab and they can be found on most tropical beaches in tidal pools. Hermit crabs are more closely related to lobster than they are to actual crabs and come in a variety of sizes ranging from only a few millimeters to one species that is close to the size of a coconut.
What Do Hermit Crabs Eat?
Hermit crabs are scavengers and will eat almost anything. They often feed on dead and decaying animals. On heavily populated beaches they can survive on leftover food scraps and rubbish. In aquariums they often eat the algae and feces of the other aquarium creatures. If you are keeping a hermit crab as a pet you are best to vary their diet. They can eat fruit and vegetables as well as fish and meat. Some pet stores will sell specialized hermit crab food, but it is not necessary to feed your hermit crab this. Making sure that they get a varied diet should cater for their dietary needs. As hermit crabs come from tropical environments, tropical fruits are a good idea. The hardest part about keeping a hermit crab is making sure that they have the correct water. Chlorinated tap water is no good for them and they require some salt in their water. It is best to discuss care of your hermit crab with a pet store near you.
Fun Facts about Hermit Crabs
- Some hermit crabs form “vacancy chains” to find new shells. The biggest of the groups gets the newly found shell and then next in the line gets its shell and so on.
- Despite their name Hermit crabs are social creatures that live in groups of up to 100 or more
- It was thought that Hermit crabs only live up to a week in captivity but a properly looked after hermit crab can live 20 to 30 years.
- The most common species of hermit crab kept as pets is the Caribbean hermit crab (Coenobita clypeatus)
- It is best to buy two or more hermit crabs when keeping them as pets as they are very social and get lonely without company.