You’ve probably have seen them in stores on the boardwalk or a kiosk in the mall. Those weird crabs in colorful shells. They can be had for a few dollars and seem like a nice temporary pet.

The truth is hermit crabs can live 20 to 30 years, yet often only live a couple of months as a pet. This is because most people don’t know how to care for them properly, and few stores that sell them bother to tell you how.

Hermit crabs be relatively easy to take care of after the initial setup, as long as you know what you are doing:

1) Painted shells are bad. – Those colorful shells might look nice, but the paint can be poison. If the crab ingests any of that, so long Mr. Crab.

2) They need sand – Those boardwalk stores rarely have sand in the cage they keep them in, but the crabs need it. Not only do hermit crabs love to dig for fun and pleasure, but they also need to bury themselves to molt. If they can’t molt, they can’t live.

3) Cold is bad – Crabs it hot and humid. ┬áThis is why wire cages suck and aquariums rule. The wire can’t keep the humidity in. Using a heat lamp isn’t a bad idea to keep them nice and toasty. By putting a humidity gauge inside the tank, you can simply spray some water on them with a bottle you keep next to the tank. A cold dry crab is a sad crab.

4) Don’t use tap water – The chlorine in the water is bad for them. Either buy some spring water or at least run the tap water through a Brita filter first. Crabs also like salt water, providing a dish of both for them will make them happy.

5) They get lonely – Believe it or not, hermit crabs are social little guys. You should have at least three of them so they can have parties and discuss Breaking Bad together.

6) Extra Shells are a must – This is one thing the stores will tell you, as it’s part of their appeal and they can make extra money by selling them to you. As the crabs grow they need to change shells. Not being able to find the right size shell is worse then when you try to put on a tight pair of jeans after eating too many fried Oreos.

Once you got that straight, here are some positives:

1) They’ll eat anything – While those flakes they sell are probably best, the crabs will eat any garbage you give them. They are used to eating whatever they find on the beach. They love fruit but will also everything from a cookie to a dead bug.

2) They don’t eat much – They eat very little. Don’t give them too much food cause they probably won’t eat all of it anyway.



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