Caring for hermit crabs: Don’t hide your head in the sand

By Connie Orcutt • Published: April 1st, 2017
Category: Animal Airwaves

Somehow, hermit crabs have the rep of being good starter pets for children. Unfortunately — for kids and crabs — that’s a myth.

Hermit crabs need lots of TLC just to survive, never mind thrive for 10 years or so. To start, their specialized gills — which allow air breathing — dry out easily, leading to slow suffocation. So crabs need the right tank and sand of a certain depth and humidity. They bury themselves while shedding, which can last a week or so every month. During those times, they can’t move and shouldn’t be handled — something that irks many kids.

Each crab needs a hiding area and three sizes of shells to choose from. In addition, they’re social creatures that shouldn’t be kept alone. And we haven’t even discussed their food and water needs.

So think carefully before giving a hermit crab to a child. It’s likely few will be happy.