Hermit Crabs Care (Pagurus Bernhardus)

Hermit Crabs

Last updated on September 15th, 2022 at 02:11 pm

Hermit crabs are one of the most popular pets you can keep in your home or office; it’s easy to see why. They’re fascinating creatures who are fun to watch and surprisingly low-maintenance, making them perfect for pet parents who don’t have too much time to devote to caretaking but still want to see their little buddies running around.

They are easy to care for as long as you know what to expect from your new pet, so this article will help you understand the best ways to feed and house them. By knowing what questions to ask and what supplies to have on hand, you’ll be able to keep your hermit crab happy and healthy in their new home.

The hermit crab is a crustacean belonging to the family Coenobitidae and order Decapoda, which comprises about 350 species of marine invertebrates in the class Malacostraca, and superorder Peracarida. The term ‘hermit’ in the name comes from the fact that hermit crabs do not have a hard shell like other crustacean; instead, they have a soft abdomen and live in empty seashells to protect their bodies.

In order to keep your hermit crabs healthy and happy, there are just a few things you need to know about how they live and what they need from you in order to thrive.

What are hermit crabs?

Hermit Crabs

Hermit crabs (Pagurus bernhardus) are crustaceans that get their name from living in abandoned shells or homes. Like their crab cousins, they have a hard exoskeleton and can grow to be several inches long. They have ten legs and two main body parts: a cephalothorax and abdomen. Unlike crabs, hermit crabs lack claws but have pincers at their extremities instead.

As hermit crabs grow, it’s not uncommon for them to upgrade their house (by finding a bigger shell) as well as shift owners (they are commonly found around ocean shorelines); therefore, it’s best for you not to pick up hitchhiking hermits unless you intend on adopting them.

Origin and descriptions

They have been kept as pets for centuries, with one source dating their use as far back as ancient Greece. In fact, hermit crabs are also known by a variety of different names around the world, including helmeted crabs and trader crabs. Most commercially available hermit crabs today come from tropical waters in Southeast Asia.

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A few species can be found in Mexico and South America. They were once fairly popular pets; they still see plenty of use in aquariums and educational applications. Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about caring for them!

Besides being careful to keep it away from water, there isn’t much special care that goes into petting a hermit crab, but there are a few factors that make some kinds better than others.

Species profile

Hermit Crabs

The hermit crab (Eupagurus bernhardus) is a common species of land crab. Like most crabs, they have five pairs of legs and walk sideways. They have oval-shaped bodies with long eyestalks. They are also known as King Crabs due to their tendency to use other creatures’ shells for protection, rather than construct their own out of the sand.

These crabs can grow up to 4 inches in length and live an average of 3–5 years in captivity. In order to remain healthy, hermit crabs need proper care and habitat maintenance.

Just like owning a dog or cat, many owners tend to forget that exotic pets require specialized treatment. Be sure that after reading these easy guidelines that you will do what is best for your little guys—that means properly caring for them!

Remember that if you purchase any type of pet, you will always be responsible for it and should always do your research before you bring home any new member of your family.

Here are some tips on how to keep your little shell dwellers happy!

Hermit crab scientific name

The scientific name of hermit crabs is Pagurus bernhardus

Hermit crabs habitat

Hermit crabs can be found in a wide variety of habitats, as long as there are adequate food and water sources. They are great for aquariums because they’re fairly small and don’t tend to reproduce in captivity. They prefer to live alone, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still keep them together with other animals, some hermits prefer to be in small groups.

All you need to do is make sure there is enough space within your tank to give each crab its own individual home. This species likes to burrow underground so if your tank provides an easy way for them to burrow, then it may satisfy their need for company.

Hermit crab size and weight

Hermit crabs can grow to over 4 inches (10 cm) in length and can weigh around 1.3 ounces to 11 pounds.

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Hermit crab tank size   

Due to their sizes, the minimum recommended tank size is 10 gallons.

Tank requirements

Hermit crabs live in a small tank and require a sand substrate for burrowing. The water depth should be approximately 1 to 2 inches, but it’s not uncommon for them to play and bask on top of the water. It’s also important to note that some species don’t like deep waters (like Coenobita perlatus) or are immune to freshwater.

Choose a tank with a secure lid, hermit crabs can escape! Take care to provide adequate ventilation as well; they will die if they get too hot or too cold. Provide hiding places by placing shells around the habitat; there should always be one more hiding place than hermit crab residents so they have a variety of spaces to pick from.

If you do not have an assortment of shells at home, look for ones on sale at craft stores (they tend to be cheaper). Ideally, each crab has its own shell. Other decorations can include rocks and plants such as moss. Most importantly, make sure your habitat is dry, moisture leads to mold which could be fatal for your hermit crabs.

Hermit crab tank mates

Hermit Crabs

Hermit crabs aren’t designed to live alone, the loner lifestyle just isn’t their scene. They require a hermit crab buddy (or multiple buddies) to feel at home, so if you want to set up a hermit crab tank, make sure it can fit two or more crabs. Keep in mind that each crab will need its own home, meaning you’ll need multiple shells.

Some good tank mates are clownfish, butterflyfish, damselfish, and gobies. Other species like pajama cardinalfish, small wrasses, mandarin fish, royal gramma, and firefish are also excellent options. They can also be kept in the same tank with cleaner shrimp.

Predatory fish such as Groupers, and beaked species such as Triggerfish, Parrotfish, and Pufferfish should not be kept with hermit crabs though.

Hermit crab breeding

Hermit crabs can vary in their breeding behavior, depending on their species. Generally, they will reproduce as follows:

Whenever females are ready to breed, they release a pheromone, which males detect and approach, there is a contest between the male hermit crabs to decide who will complete the breeding.

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After one of the males wins, the female decides whether she is still interested. Hermit crabs mate if the female wishes it to be so.

Untrained eyes might mistake hermit crab mating for fighting. There appears to be an attempt by the male to drag the female out of her shell. Hermit crabs actually mate within their shells in order to stay safe. The large reproductive organ of males ensures that females can be inseminated without leaving their shells.

Males deposit spermatozoa into female gonopores during mating. Gonopores are tiny openings over the third set of legs. Females carry eggs for around a month if they are fertilized. Hermit crabs begin their life cycle once released.

Are they aggressive or peaceful?

Hermit crabs are mostly peaceful but may defend their territory if provoked. If you’re sharing your habitat with them, be careful about how you move in and out of your enclosure, as well as when you feed them. The more peacefully co-habiting species of hermit crab will enjoy a lot of interaction from their owners, while others will prefer to stay hidden most of the time and only come out at night or during feeding time.

Caring for hermit crabs

Hermit Crabs

A healthy hermit crab can live for 10 to 15 years, which is a long time for something so small. Hermit crabs come in a variety of different species and have their own specialized care requirements.

They are one of those pets that need a little extra care. Not only do they require shells to house their soft abdomen, but they also need special kinds of food and water to keep them happy and healthy. It’s not hard to care for them, but it does take patience on your part because you have to ensure that you have all of their needs met.

Make sure that you are keeping your hermit crabs at an appropriate temperature. There should be warm areas, cool areas, and warmer basking spots in which they can move around when needed.

They also need a water dish (the moisture keeps their gills wet and helps them breathe) and a substrate to bury themselves in during molting. Hermit crabs also enjoy climbing surfaces such as rocks or wood.

What they eat

Hermit crabs are omnivores. In captivity, they’ll eat almost anything you give them. They need a calcium source and do best with fresh, meaty food like chicken, fish, or meat-based food. Feed them as much as they’ll eat in five minutes twice a day. Be careful not to overfeed, or feed your hermit crab too much protein; his shell will dissolve if it’s not mineralized with calcium!

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Hermit crabs lifespan

Most hermit crabs live for about 5–7 years, with some living for up to 10. They grow quickly during their first year but slow down after that.  They have also been reported to live for more than 30 years in their natural habitat.

Parasites and diseases

One of the most common ailments among hermit crabs is pinworms. If a crab has them, you’ll know: They crawl out of their shells and lay eggs all over. To prevent them, change your hermit crabs’ housing once a week and spray their enclosure with hot water to kill any microscopic eggs that might be lurking in their dirt.

Another parasite, fungi, afflicts many land hermit crabs by producing black spots on their abdomens; these spots can eventually turn into ulcers and kill a molt-weary crab.


The Hermit crab’s biggest threat is being eaten by other animals. When fully grown, they can grow up to 2.5 inches long, which means it’s also prey for many types of other creatures in their habitat. They need lots of hiding places and sturdy shells to protect them from predators such as seagulls, foxes, and raccoons.

Do they make good pets?

Yes, hermit crabs make great pets. They are very easy to care for, require relatively little space and you can find them at most pet stores (or online) pretty easily. These crabs are a lot of fun and make excellent additions to families with children or anyone looking for an interesting pet that requires little attention. They can live anywhere from 5-15 years depending on species and care, so you’ll be able to enjoy these incredible creatures for a long time!