When considering hermit crabs as pets, the question on many people’s minds is how long will they live. Because hermit crabs are so small in size, it is often assumed that they will only live a couple of years. For example, pet mice, which are several times larger than adult hermit crabs, live less than five years. Many mistakenly assume that the same is true with hermit crabs. In reality, with the proper care, including an appropriate environment and the right foods, a hermit crab can live twenty years or even longer in captivity. If you want your pet hermit crab to live for a very long time, there are a few things you can do to extend its lifespan.
While it is true that many pet hermit crabs die after a very short life span, this is more often than not due to improper care. Often, hermit crab owners keep their new crab in the small plastic enclosure in which it came from the pet store. This is far too small to serve as a permanent environment for the hermit crab, which is adventurous and loves to explore its environment.
In the wild, many hermit crabs are killed by predators. This can happen in your home, too, if you have pets or small children and the hermit crab’s cage does not have a sufficient latch. Hermit crabs are known as escape artists; if they do escape the tank, they may die from exposure, lack of food or water, or predators.
Many hermit crab owners have found that the hermit crab life span can be increased when hermit crabs are kept in groups. Despite their name, hermit crabs are actually quite social. Like people, they will get bored if kept in their cage alone with nothing to do. Keeping crabs in community groups can provide them interaction and a stimulating environment.
In addition to providing entertainment in the form of climbing surfaces and tankmates, it is absolutely crucial to keep the tank at the proper temperature and humidity levels. Persistently low temperatures or low humidity will cause serious health problems for a hermit crab. A diet that does not contain the right nutrients can cause insufficient nourishment, stopping your pet’s growth and causing an early death.
Another important factor that can influence the hermit crab life span is the shells available. Hermit crabs naturally change from shell to shell throughout their life as they molt, growing a larger exoskeleton each time. It is important for hermit crab owners to provide them with several shell options. If a hermit crab cannot find a suitable shell, it will become stressed out, which can make it prone to illness.
It is the responsibility of any pet owner to provide their pet with a clean and healthy habitat, access to food and water, and a stimulating environment. Responsible owners of pet hermit crabs can ensure that their hermit crab lives a long, healthy, and happy life, far exceeding the normal lifespan expected of most small and inexpensive pets.