Ask Milo – Is beach sand safe for hermit crabs?

Laureen asks:

I purchased a little crab at the wildwood boardwalk a few days ago. Yikes, I bought everything wrong ( now that I am doing my research after the fact). So… I rushed out and bought a 10 gal tank to get the little guy out of that cutsie boardwalk cage and off those dyed stones. Ive also ordered a recommended substrate, but it will take time for the handling and shipping process to get here. I live a short distance from the Atlantic Ocean (8 Miles) and am wondering if it would be ok to go to the ocean and grab some wet sand next to the surf and use that in the meantime until the substrate gets here. …And if this is acceptable, would you recommend mixing the substrate with the beach sand?

Hi Laureen,

If it’s the only sand you can get right now then yes get some sand, take it home, wash and bake it. Many crabbers use playsand or a mix of playsand and coconut fibre if they can’t get beach sand. Do a google for ‘hermit crab safe playsand’ for some ideas of brands.

I’ve used sanitised beach sand myself without any problems.

Please make sure it’s legal to collect beach sand before doing so. In some areas it is prohibited.

Your friend in a pinch,
Milo