Methods for heating your crabitat

Compilation of information by Vanessa Pike-Russell and Stacy Griffith

To keep your hermit crabs healthy and happy their environment should be kept in optimum temperature and humidity levels. If you are not able to keep the environment stable then your crabs will weaken and become stressed which will lead to death. Hermit crabs are cold blooded creatures and must have a warmish and cooler side to their substrate. If your temperature falls below 72oF on a frequent basis you need a reliable and safe method for heating your crabitat. Whatever type of under tank heater or other heating method you use, it is STRONGLY recommended that you buy a temperature control device such as a thermostat or rheostat. See some examples at the bottom of this page.

Sources of heating suitable for crabariums/crabitats are:
• Under tank heat mats or strips
• Overhead lights
• Heating cables

Note: Heat rocks are not considered safe for hermit crabs!

Here are some examples of suitable products you can use to heat your crabitat. Click the links to read more product info

1. Under-tank heaters

There are many types of under-tank heaters used with reptiles but you need to make sure your crabs do not overheat. The UTH should cover approximately 1/2 of the tanks outside floor. They are sold in a variety of sizes based on your tank size. The best kind are those that keep the temperature stable between 72 (cool side) and 80 degrees F (22-26.67oC) warmer side. Hermit crabs are cold blooded creatures and must have a warmish and cooler side to their substrate.
UTHs can be used on plastic tanks however, plastic tanks are not recommended for use as permanent crabitat!!

Eurorep habistat heat mat diagram

Eurorep habistat heat mat diagram

Reptile heat strip

Reptile heat strip

Heat Strips are manufactured in the same way as mats. They are made narrower and are generally used to heat small boxes and the cages used for housing juvenile snakes and some other species. The principles of use are the same as those for mats and the same precautions should be exercised. In small enclosures the heat build up can be very quick. The temperature should be adequately monitored and controlled with a HabiStat thermostat.
Heat Strips are available in multiple sizes.

Eurorep heat strip

Eurorep heat strip

2. Lights

Lights come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Below are just the common styles to give you some ideas of what is available. Because hermit crabs require a regular cycle of day/night it makes sense to use overhead lights that emit heat. This fills two needs with one item. Reptile bulbs come in day glo and moon glo (with a rare black phosphorus coating) so that you can have warmth at night, which is necessary. The wattage of bulb needed depends on your tank size.

Clamp lights

You will need to switch bulbs from day glo to moon glo or purchase two lamps.

Multi fixture hoods – Available in a variety of lengths

Bi Light Fixture

Pack your reptile’s daytime and nighttime heating all under one hood with this handy light fixture. Reptile terrarium heating and lighting has never been easier. The Bi-Light 2 Reptile Hood Lighting Fixture features two single high-heat ceramic sockets on separate switches and separate power cords and accommodates two incandescent bulbs.

Tri Light Incandescent Fixture

Tri Light

Tri Light

These are more difficult to find now.

Designed exclusively for terrariums, the Tri-Light fixtures feature high-heat porcelain sockets built to withstand the intense heat that is emitted from high-wattage incandescent lamps. A single socket and a double socket on separate switches and cords hold three incandescent lamps up to 150 watts each. The lamps can be plugged into individual timers for both day and night cycling. Available in 30″ size.(6″L x 31″W x 4″H)

Tri Light Combo Fixture

A combination fluorescent and incandescent light fixture designed to maximize the benefits of both types of lamps.
This allows for the use of a full-spectrum, UV-emitting fluorescent lamp along with incandescent full-spectrum daylight/heat lamps and/or incandescent nocturnal/heat lamps. The fixture contains special heat-resistant ceramic sockets for the incandescent lamps and is designed to direct light and heat down into the terrarium. With the combo-light, hobbyists can create an ideal lighting environment for their terrariums.

3. Heat Cable

Greenhouse cable can be a heating alternative for people who are unable or uncomfortable with other sources of heat. Using GHC, however, requires some additional precautions to protect the crabs and yourself. Only use enough cable to cover 2/3 of your tank floor. This allows your crabs to seek out temperature zones for resting and molting underground. Place cable in tank and secure with small strips of heat resistant tape.

Purchase a reptile mat to lay over the cable. This works best if the reptile mat is the same size of your tank floor. Cut a small hole in the corner of your reptile mat and thread the power cord through the hole.
The cord should then be threaded through a piece of PVC pipe that has been cut to fit the height of your tank.
The thermostat should be placed under the reptile mat as well. Crabs can and will cut through rubber and other types of cable insulation. Every part of it must be protected from the crabs.
Once this setup is in place, lay your substrate out on top of the reptile mat and continue with your setup as you normally would.

Check substrate frequently over the next few weeks to confirm that your reptile mat is working correctly
These heating cables speed seedling germination and growth with gentle bottom heat allowing you to get a head start on the growing season. They have a built-in thermostat that automatically activates the heating element if the soil temperature drops below 70 F which is the optimal root zone temperature for most seedlings and starts. Each heating cable includes installation instructions and helpful tips. 110/120 volt electricity required.

Thermostats and Rheostats

Should I use a Rheostat (dimmer) or a Thermostat?

Don’t forget the bulbs!
The wattage and type of bulb you need will vary by fixture and by the size of your crabitat. Day bulbs and night bulbs are needed to maintain a natural light cycle which is vital to successful molting. The easiest way to control the needed cycle is with one of these handy timer powerstrips.