We all go on vacation or have to be away from home for an extended period at some point.
Your hermit crabs will need someone to check on them at least once during a seven day absence. Ideally someone can check on them every other day but not everyone is able to arrange a regular check in.
Be sure to write up an instruction sheet for your pet sitter. Include a link to this website, our emergency form and even our Facebook group so that we can help them if they need us.
If your sitter isn’t a crab keeper they may have trouble remembering everything so make it as easy as possible. Prepare ahead of time and leave easy reminders.
Before you leave
Tidy up the tank
Refill your litter basket with moss, leaves and bark
Clean your pools and food bowls
Check that your bubblers are working well, replace if needed
Verify that all cords and cables are in good shape, label them with some tape to make them easy to identify
Secure the tank lid
Place a sticky note on the lid with a reminder for the sitter to make sure it’s secure
Place a sticky note on the tank near the gauges with the safe ranges for heat and humidity. The sitter can see quickly if there’s a problem.
Clean out and fill with fresh water, two gallon jugs and treat with Prime. If this is not enough water, make up another set and store them in your refrigerator to keep them fresher.
Mix your ocean salt in one so you now have a reserve of fresh and ocean water, label them as such.
If your pools are the kind you top off instead of fully replace, label them with sticky notes outside the tank to indicate which is salt and which is fresh.
Using dry foods only (this will reduce mold, bugs, flies) prepare several dishes of food. Make enough to allow for a food change every other day.
Check out the Vacation Oreo Cookie recipe
Go through your dry foods and mix together several items that you can sprinkle throughout the tank. This will encourage foraging as well as providing a different food supply that what will be in the dishes.
Fill up bowls with greensand and worm castings
Heat pad – Investing in a thermostat is something we strongly urge you to do. This will allow for any unexpected temperature changes while you are out.
Lights – A timer is ideal for managing your lights while you are away and it is one less thing for the sitter to worry about. If you don’t have someone arriving every day to turn the lights off/on it would be safer to leave them off while you are gone.
Just in case
Set up a small container that can be used as an emergency isolation unit
Place a roll of paper towels, gloves, trash bag and any other supplies the sitter might need. This way they don’t have to hunt through your house. Some extra moss for condensation collection would be helpful as well.
Label the bottle of Prime with a sticky note containing usage instructions (add 1 drop daily for simplicity). Set it out with the water jugs.
Sample template for the pet sitter
Please do not turn off or unplug anything unless specifically instructed to do so.
Please do not smoke, spray chemicals or perfumes etc in the same room as the tank.
If I am not reachable please see the links at the bottom for places to get help quickly.
Water- change every other day
Dump the old water and clean the bowls.
Refill with water from the gallon jugs labelled fresh and salt.
*Additional jugs in the refrigerator
Add one drop of Prime to each bowl (you can’t overdose Prime)
Take care not to spill water into the sand
If there is a crab under the bowl, leave it there but be gentle replacing the bowl.
For semi permanent pools
Top off as needed
Add 1 drop of prime daily
Food-swap new for old every other day
Check for signs of mold around the dish, clean up if found
Gauges – check daily
Gauge should read between 75F-85F for temperature and 70-80% for humidity
Lights – Turn on/off for 12 hours at a time unless on timers (any power outage may reset them)
Heat pad/thermostat – Verify it is still powered on and running (any power outage may reset them)
Lid – check that the lid is secure before leaving
Excess condensation – wipe off the glass with paper towels, place dry moss around the perimeter to catch condensation
Hermit crab is not in a shell – link to article
Hermit crab appears dead or molting on surface – link to article
Water bowl leaked or spilled – if the substrate is quite wet, use paper towels, moss or even tampons to soak it up.
Contact someone in FB group to get immediate help
Below please find additional suggestions from some members:
I’ve seen these before at PetSmart and a couple other pet stores and would not buy them myself.
HBH Hermit Crab Vacation Food Blocks
I wasn’t too crazy about the ingredients and yes they do contain ethoxyquin which is known to delay molt.
- Keep all materials organized and labeled
- Have dedicated measuring tools handy
- Do a thorough cleaning before you leave
Use the same dish for each type
- blue dish – salt water
- orange dish – fresh water
- Show helper how to mix a batch of each
- Ask helper to clean and replace daily
- Keep fresh in air tight containers
- Ask helper to clean and replace daily
- Do not over feed
- Barnicle clusters make great additions because they look nice, the crabs can climb on them and the crabs can eat them.
- Other foods need to be removed to avoid mold and spoiling.
- Make sure gauge reads accurately and is easy to see
- Inform the helper of what range it should read in
- and how to make adjustments if found out of that range.
- Have extra dishes so they can be rotated. (no need to rush the cleaning and drying process)
- Introduce the helper to this forum!
I divvy up foods into small daily portions in shells or dishes, then cover with saran wrap and place in the fridge so they just open and pop it in the tank. I normally alternate wet with dry foods so they can leave the dry foods in for two days. With the food portioned out and ready to go it’s very easy.
I mix my water a gallon at a time so there is no need for them to mix any of it. I mark the milk jugs accordingly of course.
I always keep dried leaves and flowers strewn in my tank to ensure there is always something to nibble on.
You can do the same with ground egg shells and cuttlebone.
You can make one of my Oreo Vacation Cookies and leave it in the tank. It will keep at least a week. Beyond that it gets a little moldy if there is any left over. I have been feeding more than needed while testing. One cookie would last most people a week with little left over.
I’d like to make up several servings of food a day so she wouldn’t have to worry about what to feed them. I was thinking of using a large pillbox. the type that has the days listed on them. It might help w/proportions of dry food & that way I know they are getting a variety of dry good food. Lette
Here’s what I have been doing for quite a while now when I get ready to leave.
I buy fruits and veggies and save the clippings in a ziploc bag in the refrigerator with a paper towel in it. This keeps the moisture down. I also buy a bag of mixed berries in the frozen food section because they’re just fruit and they’re easy to use.
I also buy organic baby food and a little goes a long way.
On the day before I leave, I chop my fruit and veggie clippings, I get out two ice trays and sprinkle a little big of chopped pieces into each compartment. I will even put a piece of a sardine in a few of the compartments too. I then spoon (about a 1/2 teaspoon) the baby food into alternating compartments and I mix it up so there’s not the same thing in all of them. I put a few pieces of the mixed berries on top of each compartment then sprinkle some eggshells on top of that. It actually looks very pretty by then.
I freeze the food and once they’re frozen, I pop them out into an airtight container and keep it in the freezer. Labeled of course.
I also mix up some dry food mix which is some fruit and flower mix, brown rice, grits, dried apples, maybe even their cherrished cheerios and put that in a jar with an air tight lid.
I buy 2 gallons of distilled water and add ocean salt to one of them.
When I get ready to leave, the instructions are to change out the water every other day, put a cube of food one day, then change it out with dry stuff which is ok to be there for 2 days. Alternating if they want to.
I do the same with the humidity gauge and point it out and label the flap of plastic on the lid which says… if humidity is above 80, open the flap. If it’s below 70, close the flap.
Not too bad.
It usually works out really well and I don’t have them worry with the light because the tank is near a window. It gets natural light.
I haven’t had a problem.
It’s nice because if the friend puts the food dish where I put it, the cube of food thaws nicely over the undertank heater in a short time.
I forgot to add that I put some meat.. like shrimp or bloodworms in there too.
A couple years ago when our whole family went to Georgia for a weeks vacation I knew our ‘sitter’ would only be stopping in once a day, mostly towards evening. Even with the large water ponds, I wanted to make sure the hermies had water 24/7. So I had bought reptile reservoirs for all the tanks. To make sure the little ones could get access to the reservoirs (just in case) I cut small strips of Velcro and stuck them along different parts of the outside of the reservoir water end. I used a sharpie permanent marker and marked each reservoir ‘tube’ either ocean or fresh water. (as well as the underside of the reservoir) This made it a little easier for our ‘sitter’ and the reservoirs I suggested to only change the water out every 3-4 days or so. (unless they started to look nasty, but to change the ponds water at least every 2 days)
To make sure the little hermies could get out of the reservoir pond, I placed a few marbles within each one. I used votive candle holders filled with water and marbles in the middle of where the UTH was located to help regulate the humidity within the tank. Having the Electronic temp controllers to regulate the heat output of the UTH gave me peace of mind that the temperature within the tank would be fine.
Freeze dried or dehydrated foods were prepared prior to our leaving, as well as the fresh foods. Dry foods were prepared in dishes and covered and then placed in the refrigerator to keep them fresher longer. (These were to be changed every 2 days) For the fresh foods that were prepared I used the daily pill dispensers that were to be emptied into the cleaned dishes. The fresh foods were to be changed daily. There are some Kaytee healthy food toppings for birds as well as some Hakari foods one can use.
I too left directions on the top of the tanks about the humidity readings, as well as what that tank was called. (we have a few tanks and they do have names: Jumbo tank, Strawberry tank, my main tank, etc.) The food dishes we prepared on the plastic wrap were marked accordingly too with masking tape on top.
In case a hermie had molted, I already had critter keepers set up within the main iso tank. All they needed was water added to the water dishes. I had left instructions on top of the tank lid as to which water went into which colored dish. I had also prepared a couple smaller dishes clearly marked for the iso tank in case there was a molter while we were away.
Great ideas, everyone! I do the premixed and frozen foods for my crabs too.
When I am going away for awhile, I put a pot of “living” food in the tank. I have these small plastic toy buckets that I fill with worm castings, and I sprout seeds like millet, beans, spinach, etc. in them on a sunny windowsill. Then, when I am going to leave, I put the pot into the tank. The hermies can eat the sprouts, dig up any unsprouted seeds and eat those, and even eat the worm castings.
I do this for them even when I’m home, but it’s especially important when I’m away.