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You are browsing the archive for hermit crab.

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by Stacy

What size is my hermit crab?

March 3, 2014 in General

Open the PDF Size Chart below and print it out. Compare your hermit crab to the chart to see what size it would be generally accepted as. This is a chart created by the hermit crab community to have a general guideline for size categories in reference to our hermit crabs.

61.7 KiB
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by Stacy

Distribution of Coenobita – Hermit Crabs

March 3, 2014 in Biology, General

We’ve created a chart of the distribution of coenobita – hermit crabs. Click the gray box below to view the chart.

105.0 KiB
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by Stacy

How do I clean my hermit crab tank (crabitat)?

February 22, 2014 in Crabitat

Originally posted on AllThingsCrabby.com

You will need to set up a temporary house for your crabs in advance of cleaning your tank to establish proper temperature and humidity. 10 gallon tanks are inexpensive and you can often pick them up for next to nothing at yard sales or even find them sitting on the curb. So long as you don’t have a huge number of hermit crabs you can keep them in a 10 gallon tank for a day or two if you are doing a deep clean of your large tank.

If you are able to leave your tank empty to air for 24 hours:
Use a mild (and I do mean MILD people, very very mild) bleach dilution to wash and sterilize the tank. Rinse it very well with water and then rinse again with vinegar to neutralize any traces of bleach. Allow the tank to air out for 24 hours.

If you are unable to leave the tank empty, use vinegar only and rinse well.

Sand should be checked every day for stray bits of food that will mold. Once per month, remove the sand and place it on a baking sheet in the oven for 30 minutes on 350F. Allow it to cool completely before returning it to the tank.
If you choose to buy new sand each time, it should still be baked to ensure it’s sterile.

Forest bedding substrates should be thrown out and replaced as often as needed. Be diligent about picking out stray bits of food each day to prevent mold.

Empty shells and other heat resistant items can be boiled monthly.

Wood logs, branches and cocohuts can also be baked but be vigilant and don’t leave them unattended.

Netting can be soaked in a vinegar and water mix to clean it. You should do this with all newly purchased netting. Allow it to soak over night, then change the water out and soak it again. If the water is clear after a second soak, you should be fine. Otherwise, continue changing the water until it’s clear.

Avoid using soap or chemicals on anything that your hermit crabs will come in contact with.

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by Stacy

Which types of moss are safe for my hermit crabs?

February 22, 2014 in Crabitat, FAQ

There are over 1200 types of moss so it would be impossible to address all of them. Listed below are the most commonly encountered types. In all instances you are looking for 100% natural, chemical free, dye free moss. When collecting your own live moss, know what you are collecting and do not collect from areas that may have been sprayed with chemicals or pesticides or contains pine needles/pine cones.

Note that the TERRARIUM MOSS currently being sold at Petco is Sphagnum moss so be sure to read the labels!

Zoo Med Terrarium Moss is Sphagnum

Zoo Med Terrarium Moss is Sphagnum


Sphagnum Moss/Peat Moss
ladybug15057 answered:

Doing a quick search, here are a couple of links about Sphagnum moss:

“Don’t confuse sphagnum moss with sphagnum peat moss. Sphagnum moss and sphagnum peat moss are not the same product. Sphagnum moss is used in the floral industry to line wire baskets and make wreaths. It is the LIVING moss that grows on top of a sphagnum bog. Sphagnum peat moss is used as a soil conditioner by gardeners. It is the dead material that accumulates in the lower levels of a sphagnum bog. Harvesters of the horticultural peat moss remove the top few inches of the live sphagnum moss before harvesting the peat from the lower levels of the bog.

There has also been some confusion about which of the two is actually the source of a fungal disease called Cutaneous Sporotrichosis, which according to Gerry Hood of the Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss Association, is causing some concern within gardening circles. Sporotrichosis is a chronic infection identified by ulcerous skin lesions and is caused by coming in contact with the fungus, Sporothrix schenckii. Research has found no cases of sporotrichosis being transmitted in sphagnum peat moss. However, the fungus Sporothrix schenckii,does live in the top, living portion of the bog that is removed before peat harvesting.”





Peat moss can also acidify its surroundings by taking up cations such as calcium and magnesium and releasing hydrogen ions.

SUE answered:
Cypress is a conifer. Coniferous wood/needles are toxic to crabs when ingested. Crabs typically graze on their substrates, making cypress a bad substrate. Cypress mulch according to my herp expert is really best for reptiles that are carnivorous. Cypress has uses only in EXTERNAL application, for most mammals and other animals it has toxic properties, and depending on the species of cypress, the most common is arsenic.

Spanish Moss (sometimes called Cypress moss) is often treated with chemicals

Reindeer/Caribou (lichen) Moss – usually dyed and therefore unsafe


Frog Moss/Pillow Moss
Sold by Zoo Med-

Zoo Med Frog Moss

Zoo Med Frog Moss

Pillow Moss

Pillow Moss

Completely natural frog moss for use with frogs, toads, salamanders, garter or green snakes, and all other moss environment species. Use as a top substrate or decorative accent in vivarium/terrarium applications.

Frog Moss (also called “Pillow Moss”) will come back to life and grow in proper terrarium conditions.
A beautiful, decorative living moss to accent your naturalistic terrarium.
Increases humidity in terrariums making it perfect for all high humidity loving species of reptiles or amphibians.

Additional Information:
Zoo Med’s Frog Moss can be washed and reused several times before needing to be replaced with new moss.

Beaked Moss –

Zilla Beaked Moss

Zilla Beaked Moss

100% natural terrarium moss is great for amphibians and reptiles that inhabit moist environments. The moss holds moisture, generating higher levels of humidity that is beneficial for tropical and forest species. Ideal for Chameleons, Frogs, Green Anoles, Rainforest Geckos, Salamanders & Newts.

• Holds Moisture
• Provides a Realistic Setting for Reptiles and Amphibians
• Completely Natural (no dyes or chemicals)

Moisture stability with natural beauty
From the lush coniferous rain forests of Oregon, we harvest a moisture-loving moss that tropical reptiles thrive in. Its natural moisture retention properties keep humidity levels uniformly high, while forming a lovely green carpet that’s the closest thing to home for rainforest reptiles. Looks great, and your favorite pet will love having it under foot! Since it’s 100% biodegradable, mulch it into your garden for natural disposal.

Ideal for Chameleons, Frogs, Green Anoles, Rainforest Geckos, Salamanders & Newts.


Flukers makes dyed and undyed moss. Both are listed as all natural. They are easy to tell the difference though. The undyed is perfectly safe, the jury is out on the other.

Hiawatha Moss

Hiawatha Moss

Sheet Moss

Sheet Moss


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by Stacy

Manufactured Sea Shells

February 18, 2014 in General

Interview with Amy Youngs regarding her plastic shell prototypes

Makerbot 3D Hermit Crab Shells

Glass Hermit Crab Shells

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by Stacy

Safe and Unsafe Wood

February 18, 2014 in Crabitat

Written by Julia Crab Wednesday, 28 September 2005

Here follows a list of woods that can be used safely in a hermit crab environment. These are non-toxic woods that won’t hurt them if eaten. This list, as all the others, is not in any way complete, and will be expanded as new information is received.

Cholla wood
Cork bark
Cypress (swamp variety, taxodium species)
Grape vine

Unsafe Woods

Bitter Almond
Cherry Laurel
Evergreen of any kind (pine, cedar, redwood, etc.)

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by Stacy

The Newbies Guide to Hermit Crabs

February 18, 2014 in General

Coenobita compressus

Let’s Get Started!

First and foremost use the SEARCH BOX and SEARCH, SEARCH, SEARCH! Our site has a ton of information and nearly every question that a new crabber is trying to answer, has been asked here before. We work hard to maintain a current and extensive library of articles to help you. We do have a forum but it is not monitored and you may not receive an answer right away.


How do I create and maintain humidity in my crabitat?
Calibrating your Humidity Gauge

Methods for heating your crabitat
Air Temperature versus Substrate Temperature

Can I Use A Light To Keep Them Warm?
Do I need a light?

Regulation of Crustacean Molting: A Multi-Hormonal System
CrabloverDon on Molting
All about molting
On molting
Is my hermit crab dead or molting?
What is molting?
Pre Molt Symptoms

Dropped or Missing Limbs-
Handicapped/limbless/sick Hermit Crab Care
Why do land hermit crabs drop limbs?
PPS (Post Purchase Stress) Minimizing the Impact

Shell-less Hermit Crab-
My Hermit Crab has left its shell! What do I do?

What foods are good and bad for hermit crabs?

The importance of the right kind of salt
How do I mix ocean water?
Why can’t I use tap water?

Substrates for Hermit Crabs

How do I choose suitable shells for my hermit crab?
When do hermit crabs change shells?
Painted Shells

Escaped Hermit Crab-
Locating an Escaped Hermit Crab

Cost Cutting-
Cost Cutting Tips
A guide for setting up a large crabitat on a budget

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by Stacy

FAQ Why can’t I use tap water?

February 18, 2014 in FAQ

All water that comes in contact with your hermit crab must be dechlorinated. Most cities add chlorine to their water supply. Some add chlorine and chloramines to the water. Unless you have contacted your water department and determined if they use both, you should use a treatment to remove both. In the past, it was enough to let water sit out for 24 hours so the chlorine could evaporate out. That no longer is sufficient because chloramines will never evaporate out. A bottle of water treatment is under $5.00 and will last for years. This is a small price to pay for peace of mind.

Stresscoat is also a dechlorinator. Stresscoat should NOT be added to your crabs drinking water.

Chlorine and chloramines cause burning on the gills of a hermit crab and will eventually kill the crab.

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by Stacy

Do I need a light?

February 18, 2014 in Crabitat

This was originally posted on All Things Crabby: http://www.allthingscrabby.com/blog/index.php/2009/10/25/do-my-crabs-need-a-light?blog=3

Yes they do.

Light and proper food fuels a hermit crabs metabolism. A hermit crab’s metabolism enables them to adjustment to their surrounding environment. Hermit crabs require a normal cycle of day and night to maintain their metabolic functions. Along with a nutritious, balanced diet. A cycle of 12 hours light and 12 hours night is commonly recommended and used. With overhead lights you will notice that your crabs will be more active during the day. We’ve always been told that because crabs are nocturnal, they are not active during the day. Try turning a light on them and you will see how false that is. Hermit crabs are primarily nocturnal but not exclusively.

Your overhead light can also be your heat source. I recommend you use a set up with a day bulb and night bulb. You can purchase a bi light hood that will accommodate two bulbs that are controlled with two switches. This means you can buy a couple timers and set your lights on a timed cycle to come off and on as needed. The wattage of the bulbs will be determine by the size of your tank and if you are using the bulbs for your heat source. If you don’t need the bulbs for warmth, go with a very low wattage. You are looking for incandescent bulbs that provide UVA rays. These are bulbs sold for reptiles.

Even molting crabs should be kept on a normal cycle. This flies directly in the face of advice we have been given for several years. Molting is a metabolic process. Now if you consider molting in the wild, a crab simply digs down and molts. It doesn’t go into a dark cave or den, then dig down and molt. When the crab digs down, it is obviously in the dark but there is no reason to deny the crab of light pre or post molt.

Sue Latell of Coenobita Research has been conducting a light study and continues to research the benefits and affects of light cycles on hermit crabs. This information has been derived from her current research articles or conveyed to me directly during our discussions on hermit crab care.

The relationship between light, food and a hermit crab’s metabolism and how it plays a role in environmental adaptation, is exclusively the result of Sue Latell’s many hours of research and study. Sue’s ability to decipher and apply research papers and her consultations with experts in the field, have revealed some large flaws in our previous methods of crab care. It is always an effort to change the popular, common methods but in the case of hermit crab care, it is vitally necessary to improve the quality of life we provide to our hermit crabs.

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by Stacy

Emergency Help Questions

February 18, 2014 in General

AFTER reading the info in the Emergency Help Links ‎ if you still require assistance, please answer the questions below. Copy and paste the questions into a new topic titled ‘Emergency Troubleshooting’ and then answer each question.

We will do our best to help you in a timely manner but understand that no one is monitoring this forum 24/7. You can help yourself first by reading the extensive information we have provided.

By answering ALL of the questions you will make it easier for us to help you. It may even helpyou identify the issue on your own. If we have to question you at length for details it simply delays the process of determining your issue.

If you are unwilling to answer all of the questions, understand that your post will not be given priority in determining the order in which to answer new help requests.

***** Begin Copying Here*****
Briefly describe your problem:

1. Substrate used in crabitat? In iso?

A. What is the depth of the substrate?

B. Is the substrate moist or dry?

2. Humidity percentage level in crabitat? In iso?

A. What style of humidity gauge do you use? (Dial or

B. Where is the gauge located in the crabitat? (top, middle,
Substrate level…left side, middle, or right side of

C. Are there any water sources near where the gauge is

D. Did you test the humidity gauge for accuracy? (by
calibrating It?)

3. Temperature of substrate in crabitat? In iso?

4. Air temperature of crabitat? (what the inside wall thermometer
reads) In iso?

A. Where is the thermometer located within the crabitat?

5. All items and decorations within the crabitat? In iso?

A. Were items boiled that could be boiled, baked that could
be baked, or washed with hot water prior to being placed
within the crabitat?

6. What type of water is offered to the hermies? (bottle or dechlor
tap water?)

A. If you use a dechlorinator what brand do you use?

B. How often to you exchange the water for fresh water?

C. What do you use as water dishes? ( and how deep are they?)

7. Do you offer an ocean water source?

A. What brand name of ‘ocean’ water do you use?

B. How do you prepare the ocean water offered? (amount of
dechlor water to ocean mix)

C. Is it shaken after being mixed, and before offering?

D. Is it left to sit and dissolve for at least 12-24 hours?

E. If you have an ocean pool with a filter, how often do you
change the filter?

F. When the ocean water level becomes low in the pool, do you add more fresh or ocean water to raise the water level?

8. What are all the foods offered in main crabitat? (commercial and fresh)

A. If you offer fresh fruits, veggies, and meats within the crabitat how long are they left in the crabitat before you replace them with fresh foods?

B. If you offer commercial dry foods, how often are they replaced?

C. Is the substrate checked daily for fresh foods that may have been dragged out of the food dish and removed?

9. What are all the foods offered to a recovering molter after they eat their exo?

10. What type of crabitat do you have? (glass, acrylic critter keeper, plastic, other)

A. What gallon size crabitat do you have? (if not known what are the measurements?)

B. How many hermies do you have in your crabitat?

C. Is there a second level to the crabitat?

D. What type of lid do you have on the crabitat?

11. Type/form of heat source used on main crabitat? On iso? (lights, an UTH sold for reptiles, or other source…if other please

A. If you use a light on the crabitat, what size watt is it?

B. Is it extend on ½ or all of the tank top?

C. Do you provide a night and day cycle?

D. If you use a Reptile UTH for what size tank is it rated for? (if not known what is its length and width measurements?

12. How long you have had the hermie/hermies?

A. Have they molted since living with you?

B. If so, were there any complications? (limb loss, didn’t eat their exo, etc.?)

13. Were they bought from the same pet store/place?

14. What species of hermies do you have?

A. What style and type of shell are they wearing? (Painted or natural)

B. What style and type of extra shells do you offer?

15. Do you bath your hermies?

A. If so how often and do you add anything to the water?

B. What is the water temperature if you bath your hermies?

C. Where do they exercise/drip dry off afterward?

D. Is the area they drip dry at warm?

16. If you take your hermies out to exercise or play, do you mist their gill area first?

17.. Has there been any cleaners, paints, perfumes, air fresheners,(including plug in’s), candles, smoking, any form of ‘smells/odors’ where their crabitat is? (remember, even though one may use an air
freshener in one room, including deodorants, etc…the scent does travel)

A. Are all hand lotions, or other smells/odors washed off of your hands prior to handling the hermies? (including
scented soap)

18. How often do you sterilize/deep clean the crabitat & how do you sterilize it?

A. What do you use to clean/wash the inside of the crabitat?

B. How often do you spot clean the crabitat for hermie wastes?

C. Has there ever been any pests noted within the crabitat? (ants, mites, gnats, etc.?)

D. Has there ever been any mold or mildew noted in the crabitat?

E. Where are the hermies when the tank is deep cleaned?

19. Are there any odors/smells ‘within’ the crabitat?

A. If so what would you relate the odor to?

B. Is there an odor on the hermies?

C. If there is, what would you relate the smell to?

20. Do you use sea sponges in the water supply?

A. Are the sponges rinsed daily with dechlorinated water?

B. Are the sponges exchanged at ‘least’ every 2 days for fresh sterile ones?

21. Have you added anything new to the crabitat recently…new substrate, decorations, changed water dechlorinators or ocean water mix?

If there is something you feel is also relevant that has not asked here, please do include it. This will all be needed for us to try help troubleshoot if there is a potential problem.

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