Hermit crabs - called Anemone hermit crabs in water and Decapods crustaceans on land are very interesting animals. The land version is extremely popular as a household pet. It is good for both the young and the old. It is an inexpensive pet, easy to care for, clean, requires little space and is generally odorless. The marine version of the hermit crab will travel along the bottom of the ocean or saltwater aquarium and devour the uneaten food and algae.
All hermit crabs are concealed in a shell that they pick and have an asymmetrical abdomen. Their tail is very vulnerable and is kept inside the shell. They only leave their shell when it is too small or too dirty. They have ten legs like a shrimp and grow to the size of a softball. They can live up to fifteen or twenty years, but some only a few months.
Hermit crabs grow by molting, which is when they shed their exoskeleton and grow a new one. They will usually eat their old one to regain the calcium that was lost in the growth. They also regrow their legs etc. at this time. Often owners will believe their pet has died, as a hermit crab will stop moving for weeks or months during this time of molting. One can tell if they are alive if there is no odor from decay. They are relatives to the spider and lobster. They like company, so in the wild can be found in colonies of one hundred or more. They live in a shell from 29-80mm but any larger is too heavy for them to carry. In the water, the hermit crab shell is lifted by the water.
Land hermit crab make great pets. They do not hurt people so a small child can enjoy holding them. If it was to grab your skin, water releases the crab instantly. Hermit crabs like baths to keep clean and can be in a water bath for up to five minutes but must be completely dried afterwards. Sand in their bedding will cause irritation and bacteria could develop.
They like to eat a varied diet of vegetables and fruits like bananas and grapes. All of this must be removed to prevent spoilage after they have eaten what they want. They also like peanut butter and crackers. Do not give spicy food as they don't enjoy it. They can live without food for a while because they store their excess food as in the wild. Available water is always essential. They drink with their claws by cupping it into the gills inside their shell. The land crab will die if left in water.
They lay their eggs inside their shells too and when they become big enough; they will deposit them in the ocean. They grow by molting there and when their exoskeleton is large enough, they will take on a shell. Their enemies are fish and other crabs, for a few. They also are not distinguishable between male and female. They are nocturnal.
There are over 50 species all over the world. The crabs are off Europe, North and South America and Australia. Florida has many land crabs.
The temperature must be above sixty-five degrees for them to survive and a lot of humidity. If in a cage a heating pad is needed to maintain the temperature, when it is necessary but a sun lamp will dehydrate them. A piece of plastic will keep in the moisture in a tank and a sea sponge will help too.
In conclusion, the hermit crab is one of the most popular creatures around and will give many joyful days to a pet owner.