Hermit crabs are the ultimate impulse purchase pet and Christmas time is no exception. Hermit crabs are not the ‘easy, carefree’ pets they are promoted to be by pet stores. Its not as simple as buying a plastic box and putting the crab it in. In fact, hermit crabs require just as much, if not more, care than your average small pet. Before you pick up a hermit crabs for Christmas morning please consider the following:
Land hermit crabs can live a minimum of 30 years in captivity. This is the age of the oldest pair in captivity that I know of, and they are still going strong. Hermit crabs are believed to live up to 70 years in the wild. Are you prepared to own and care for this ‘throw away pet’ for that length of time? Will your child be willing to care for this pet into adulthood? Land hermit crabs can grow to the size of a cantaloup, can you provide adequate housing for a pet that large? Hermit crabs require a constant temperature in the range of 70-80F and a constant relative humidity in the range of 70-80%. If either of these two needs are not met, the crab will die, slowly and painfully. They require adequate room to move and climb around inside their tank. They require plenty of empty shells as they grow larger or simply bored with their current shell. Hermit crabs require a isolation area (much like an ICU in a hospital) to do their molting. Molting? Oh you don’t know that hermit crabs molt?? Well they do. This is how they grow. They shed their outer exoskeleton and eat it. While their body is soft they grow and then the new exoskeleton hardens. This is a very stressful, critical time for a hermit crab. Small hermit crabs can molt as often as every two months. Hermit crabs require dechlorinated water for drinking and bathing. Exotic species of hermit crabs require salt water. There is more than one species of hermit crab? You didn’t know that either did you? That’s because the pet store that sold you the hermit crab doesn’t know the difference. Hermit crabs are not hermits at all. In the wild, they live in colonies of hundreds, if not thousands, of crabs. Your one little crab will be very unhappy living alone.
Do you still think hermit crabs are easy, carefree, throw away pets? Probably not. That’s really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to providing proper care.
This Christmas, how many of the toys your child receives will be forgotten within a week? How many of them will they grow bored with and forget about? Will their new pet hermit crab be one of those? Are you, as a parent, willingly to assume care of the hermit crab? If not, please don’t give a pet hermit crab as a christmas gift. Pets aren’t for Christmas, they are forever. Please make sure your child really is prepared to properly care for a new pet before bringing it home.