Can a hermit overcome shyness?

Cynthia asks:

I have three crabs I got from the Crabbage Patch, and while they are very healthy, they are a bit shy and usually shell up when people walk by. I have a rescue crab I got free off a local paper, and that guy doesn’t care if people walk around or not, and he’s usually out and about.

Is there a way to make the shy crabs more comfortable? Should I handle them? (I don’t usually handle the crabs.) Or just have more people walk by so they get used to it?

Wimblee says:
People have definitely had success with handling their hermit crabs, even to the point of being able to hand feed them. I have read that frequent handling along with speaking in low tones can tame a shy hermit crab. I practice hands off crabbing so I’ve never experimented with ways of overcoming their shyness. I have found that PPs/caribbeans seem to be less shy. Jumbos seem to vary some are super aggressive and outgoing and others are very reclusive. Most of the exotics I have owned have been shy. When I had Rugosus’ they seemed to be mostly outgoing and were definitely the easiest to photograph. My E’s are the worst! No matter where my tank was located they freak out when you walk by or approach the tank. Right now my tank is in a low traffic room AND on the floor. I don’t think this location is necessarily ideal for taming your hermit crabs. Any time you are approaching your hermit crabs from above they are going to naturally retreat. In the wild physical contact, aside from mating, would involve shell stealing or predadation. hermit crabs don’t seek human contact like dogs and cats.

If you want to continue your hands off approach and reduce agitation, you might consider putting more plants and ground cover in your tank.