By Tonia Jordan
First, remove from your mind the idea that these creatures are very low maintenance. It’s not that they require a huge amount of your time, but they do require weekly bathing, new food every few days, new water every day, heat, and a regularly cleaned environment.
A hermit crab will be very comfortable in a 10-gallon or bigger aquarium with a few inches of sand or stones at the bottom. Two shallow dishes of water are required – one for salt water and one for dechlorinated fresh water. You can buy additives at pet stores in preparing each water dish. Sponges sitting in the dishes work very well to help add humidity to the habitat.
You’ll also need a thermometer and humidity gauge. The tank needs to be between 72 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit. You can use either an under-tank heater, or low wattage lighting to provide heat. The humidity must also be between 70 and 80 percent to keep your hermit crabs healthy.
It helps to have a lid on your tank to keep in moisture, and to keep in your crabs. They can be quite the climbers!
Commercial hermit crab food can be purchased at any pet stores that sell the animal. Supplement their daily food regiment with assorted fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain breads, or small pieces of fish and meat. You can also offer some pieces of cuttlebone or boiled egg shells for calcium.
You will need to clean food dishes daily and remove any uneaten bits of food from the tank. Also rinse and refill water dishes daily.
Be sure to provide plenty of empty shells in a variety of sizes. Make sure to also have a variety of shells in different shapes and styles, and with various opening sizes. You never know what type of shell a hermit crab may like, and if a good selection is not provided, crabs can fight over the best ones!
Hermit crabs need to be bathed once per week to stay healthy. (This is also a good time to clean the rest of the habitat) Fill a bowl about one inch deep with lukewarm tap water. Very slowly place the hermit crab feet first into the water. Often, the hermit crab will seek shelter inside its shell during this process. As the crab emerges, the water will go into his shell and rinse it clear of any debris. After a few minutes of walking around, take the hermit crab out and place it into his newly clean tank. (This may also be a good time for a treat of fresh carrots or any other type of treat)
Cleaning the habitat:
About once per month, do a thorough cleaning with hot water. Avoid detergents and chemicals as these can be harmful to your pets. Sand can be washed and boiled or baked to sterilize it for re-use, if desired.
Hermit Crabs are very friendly and fun pets. While they do require a good deal of care to keep them healthy, they are very rewarding pets and can be quite the stress reliever. As with any pet, research should be done before you make the decision to adopt it.
Tonia Jordan is a freelance Journalist and a writer on http://www.Writing.com which is a site for Writers.