Thursday, July 31, 2014

How to Care for Your Hermit Crab

Hermit crabs are easy pets, they require little attention and care. For the most part, a hermit crab would make a great first time pet for children. Care consists of keeping the tank clean, feeding, baths and water.
First you will need a tank, a 10 gallon tank would be the best size to keep your crab happy. Smaller tanks for one crab though is fine too. You will need to buy soil or moss. They have special mosses and dirt for you to add to your tank in any local pet store. You will also need a water dish, and a separate food dish.
You can get creative and subdivide your tank into half water, half sand. Do make sure though that the water is not deeper than the height of your crabs face. They can drown in water, so make sure it's a small puddle of water. Also purchase s water soaking sponge. They sell these in pet stores. They are small orange colored sponges in odd shapes, pick out a nice big one. This sponge retains water, that your crab will drink and sometimes perch on.
You can also buy hermit crab logs. They like to hide in these at times during the day. The way your tank looks in the long run is all based on how creative you are. Lighting is not necessary, but you can add a small 15 watt reptile light to your tank to add heat. However this is not necessary in summer months. Do not leave the light on for more than a few hours a day. You could dry out the habitat, and hermits like moisture.
Crabs also like to climb, you can add a small thick sturdy log into the tank for your hermit crab. They like high places, but make sure the log is not too high. If the crab falls from high places it could kill him.
Once you have your tank all set up, next you pick your hermit crab. You can get a small one or a larger one. But be sure to always buy some shells in larger sizes. Your hermit will grow and will need a new home. Leave these empty shells in the tank. When your hermit has grown, he will pick a new shell. You can save, or discard the old one.
Always provide fresh water to your hermit daily, and fresh food every 2-3 days. There are also specially designed hermit crab fruits and treats you can buy at any local pet store. You should also add a fresh egg shell once a week to chomp on.
Make sure you buy a water spritzer, your crab will require a spritz or 2 every other day to keep the tank moist. Your crab will also need a bath every so often. I simply run mine under running water for a few seconds. You can also submerge him in a bowl of room temperature water for a few seconds. Dry him off a bit, and wash your hands afterward.
If you have more than one hermit crab always make sure to provide plenty of empty shells for them to move into. At times they will fight for shells.
Hermit crabs have huge pincher's. One is small, and the large one is used for battle and to protect itself. Your hermit may pinch you if you are not careful. The pinches though are quick, and do not hurt too bad. They have never once drawn blood from my fingers. But a nasty hermit may clamp on and hold on. DO NOT FLING you hand. You could kill the crab. Simply run him under water until he lets go.
Your small hermit crab can grow up to 3 inches and more with proper care, habitat, and time. Do make sure you have empty shells in hand.
Not only do hermit require baths, but so do their tanks. Give it a good cleaning once a week, and check any sand or moss for poop. Clean it out, it could cause mites to invade the tank if you do not clean up regularly. I clean mine daily to make ensure there is no weekly giant clean up. Clean up though, is quick and easy.
You can let your crabs out to play every now and then, but they honestly should be handled with care. Do not keep them out long, and do not shake them. You can let them out to walk around, but keep them at ground level, and do not leave them unattended.
Always wash your hands after handling a hermit.
Yep they shed their shells. Molting happens about once every year for larger crabs. They are very soft at this time, and if you notice your molting, separate him from other crabs. They are vulnerable until they become hard again.
Molting has signs, if you see your active crab becoming lazy, it is a sign he may be molting. Their color may also look dull, and they will eat and drink a lot more than usual. Do not remove the exoskeleton. The molting crab will eat this to recover. This is a source of calcium, just like egg shells.
Besides what you can buy you can also feed your crab hard boiled eggs, broccoli, carrots, lettuce, spinach, turkey, chicken, oranges, apples, grapes, potatoes, popcorn, granola, and raisins. Use sparingly and clean up everyday if you feed them these foods.
Although a hermit crab is an easy animal to care for, do realize that they do need care. You can't just buy one, throw it in a tank and expect great results. Follow simple steps to maintain a happy and healthy hermit.

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