How do hermit crabs breathe?
Hermit crabs breathe through modified gills, which is why humidity is so important. Though they breathe air from the atmosphere like us, the oxygen passes through their modified gills, which need to maintain a certain level of moisture in order to function properly. In dry climates or in dry times of the year, it is especially important to mist your crabs regularly to keep them hydrated. Moss and coconut fiber are great additives to a hermit crab environment, as they hold moisture for longer periods of time in between misting.
This is also why we recommend bathing the crabs after feedings: not only does it remove excess food particles that may have gotten stuck inside the shell, it also gives the crabs a chance to rehydrate to an extent they may not do on their own!
Caring for a Hermit Crab
Provide new shells for crabs to grow into
Hermit crabs love to switch shells, but need larger shells as they grow to maintain adequate body moisture. For a proper fit, the new shell should be larger than the present shell, and the shell opening should be the same size as the crab's largest pincher.
Not all shells are suitable for crab homes
To ensure that tree crabs function in their homes, shells should be properly cleaned, processed and chosen by a knowledgeable hermit crab distributor. Shells found outside and cleaned improperly can do more harm than good for your crab, since mites or pests that are endemic to your home may be harmful to your new little invert.
Create a healthy, social environment
Crabs thrive in groups and are most active and entertaining when they co-exist in pairs or small communities. Whenever you add a new crab to the community, consider the space within your enclosure. The addition of a new crab may mean upgrading to a larger terrarium. The enclosure should be a warm, humid environment, reaching 70-75 degrees F.
Promote exercise by creating a playground
Crabs love to climb! Coral, choya wood, driftwood, and cork bark make great play areas for your crabs. Be sure to upgrade to a larger enclosure if you begin to add a lot of climbing pieces to ensure space for each crab.
Feeding your hermit crab
Your hermit crab should be fed 2-3 times per week, in a separate enclosure. Since hermit crabs tend to be most active at night when there isn't too much external stimuli, it's best to feed your crab overnight and allow it to eat its fill. Be sure to provide a water source along with the food in the separate enclosure. The next morning, remove your crab(s) from the feeding enclosure and bathe them in lukewarm water to remove excess food that may have been tucked into your hermit crab's shell accidentally. Feeding your hermit crab in its main enclosure promotes the growth of fruit flies in the tank.
Bathing your hermit crab
Crabs will clean themselves if you provide them with fresh water in their bowls, but it is a good idea to bathe your hermit crab after each feeding to ensure no leftover food gets tucked into the shell. Bathe your hermit crab by completely submerging it in room temperature water for 1 minute and then allowing them to air dry.