Hermit crabs are extraordinary crustaceans in many respects. They derive their name from their characteristic habit of bearing a hermitage on their backs for all their lives. This hermitage essentially refers to an abandoned snail shell, where the hermit crabs take recluse. The decapods not only live within the shells, but also they carry the shells with them wherever they go. The hermit crabs are amazing climbers. They carry the shells whenever they climb.
There are about five hundred species of hermit crabs in the world and all of them have been seen to do so. The hermit crabs are classified into land hermit crabs and marine hermit crabs as per their selection of habitats for themselves. A few of the hermit crab species; both land and marine have accepted their existence with human beings as extraordinary pets. If you are thinking of having a hermit crab at your house, then it is important that you know the proper ways of how to look after hermit crabs.
The question of how to look after hermit crabs has several different criteria associated with it. These criteria pertain to the understanding of various physiological aspects associated with the crabs, the proper maintenance of the habitat conditions, proper provisions for the crab nutrition and acknowledging the friendships that the crabs can bestow.
The answer to the question of how to look after hermit crabs can be found by taking proper care of the crabs. The maintenance of habitat is a vital parameter in this direction. In the case of hermit crabs, there are two dimensions of habitats. Firstly, the term habitat should refer to their shell-houses; and secondly, the habitat should mean the enclosure where the crab is housed. The enclosure can be a simple sand filled container for the land hermit crabs, or else it can be a carefully constructed marine reef aqua system by an aquarist. For land crabs, it is an essential point that the enclosure has sufficient moist sand. The sand level should be such that the largest hermit crab of the space can completely dig inside the sand and stay. The moisture in the sand is also important because it helps retain the humidity in the enclosure. The land hermit crabs find their oxygen not from the air, but from the moisture in the air.
The tanks of the marine hermit crab should contain rock-faces. The rock faces are essential for the special crabs to rest, to play, to molt, to climb and to find accommodation along with their shells. A marine aquarium for hermit crabs should not be completely filled with water by the aquarist.
The shell issue should be taken care of also. It is important to remember never to introduce a crab to a shell that is paint coated or have less space for the hermit crab. The hermit crab itself takes care of its shell and clears it of mites. You can assist in shell cleaning if you want to, but you must be very gentle in handling the crustacean with a soft abdomen. Also crucial in this respect is to understand the individual shell choices of hermit crabs. These little beings are very picky and go through mood swings while selecting a shell. Some prefer shells with thicker walls, while some prefer shells with thinner walls and so on.
Understanding molting is also a part of the answer to how to take care of the hermit crabs. Molting is a natural process of shedding the exoskeleton and regenerating a new exoskeleton. During molting, the crabs dig a hole into the sand and go to a hibernation mode. The hermit should not be disturbed during the molting meditation. The molting patterns of the land and marine hermit crabs are vastly different.
Also, take proper care of the crab nutrition. The crabs are omnivorous animals and their food should contain adequate calcium and carotenoids.