By Sara Caruso. Photography by Ninamarie Stremouchow
Adopting a new pet is exciting for everyone. Providing an animal with a good home and watching it thrive is rewarding. And with supervision, caring for an animal can teach responsibility and compassion. The summer season sees many hermit crabs entering their forever homes. Despite their names, hermit crabs live in groups and need to socialize with other hermit crabs to stay happy and healthy. When adopting, it is important that you adopt only healthy hermit crabs and that you adopt three or more at once.
In the wild, hermit crabs like the Purple Pincers (Coenobita clypeus) shown here, live in large groups called casts. Hermit crab casts have a social hierarchy or pecking order where larger crabs tend to feed first. This social hierarchy can also be seen when a hermit crab finds an empty shell; a conga line of crabs in receding sizes forms behind it. Once the leader changes shells, a chain reaction occurs, and the crabs change into the shells in front of them. This organization is possible thanks to the cast social hierarchy.
If you have had your existing hermit crabs for six months or longer, it is important to prepare them to meet the newest members of the family by gently dipping each crab into a solution made of one-half gallon of chlorine-free bottled water and a half capsule of aquatic tetracycline (250 mg). This will act as a barrier and prevent the spread of bacteria from the old crabs to the new crabs.
When introducing a new crab to your hermit crab family, it is important to do it gradually. Keep them separated for about a week to allow the new crab time to adjust to his new surroundings. The best time to place them together is the daytime, after the main crab group has eaten so there is no food competition. Listen for chirping and communication between crabs. If it escalates, remove the new crab to give everyone time to calm down, and try again the next day. They will eventually get used to each other. Once hermit crabs become friends, they will often lay next to each other, and feed together.
Like most humans, friends and family are an important part of a hermit crab’s life and necessary for a happy, healthy crustacean.